Gangster NationGangster Nation by Tod Goldberg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This review is for the audible version…

What kind of writer gets me to feel empathy for a mobster hit man? A good one. Is the whole story line believable? Maybe not, but it’s a fun story anyway. One reason we care about Sal/David is the way he is so in love with his wife that he doesn’t stray to other women–even after three years. It would be so easy to rationalize that, and Goldberg makes it feel real. I love the way Sal is ‘turning into David’ and yet… The novel explores nurture vs. nature. What makes us who we are? Sal/David is a very complicated person who is constantly questioning himself, wondering who he is what he might have been. He has taken the enforced learning he had to become a credible Rabbi to a very deep level.

The other POV characters are equally interesting and emotionally charged. Goldberg makes some painful choices in this story–surprising ones that had me literally gasping out loud. I won’t put any spoilers in this review, but it should be no surprise that not everyone in a book titled Gangster Nation makes it out alive and unharmed. And, the book leaves you on a total cliff, feet dangling in the air, and your hands grasping at crumbling earth.

(My only pet peeve is the narrator doesn’t pronounce Nevada correctly. Even Sal would get that right after three years. Is it nit-picking to ask that the pronunciation to be different for different POV character? Maybe. I don’t know anyone living in Nevada who doesn’t cringe whenever they here it pronounced the ‘wrong’ way. It only happens a couple of times.)

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And if you haven’t already read it, be sure to pick up Gangsterland first