Publication Date: April 2002
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Little Chicago opens in the office of Children's Services, where 11-year-old Blacky Brown is being interviewed by a social worker trying to determine what has happened to him. His emotions are blocked at first, but then he reveals that he has been sexually abused by his mother's boyfriend, and is released into his mother's custody. Thus begins an alternately harrowing and hopeful story of a brave boy's attempts to come to grips with a grim reality. Blacky is helped at first by a classmate, Mary Jane, who has also been ostracized, and then by the gun that he buys easily from his sister's boyfriend. Little Chicago is an unblinking look at the world of a child who has been neglected and abused. It portrays head-on the indifference and hostility of classmates, teachers, and even Blacky's mother, once these people learn his "secret." Like Sura in The Buffalo Tree and Whensday in The Copper Elephant, Blacky is one of Adam Rapp's mesmerizing voices, more so because it is a voice so rarely heard.