By Ben Rose
© 2021, Breaking Rules Publishing
Kindle version; file size 1830 KB
Vinnie Il-Cazzo is raised in a household of hustlers, taught from his early years how to score free food, discounted products, and an easy life. But when he falls hard for a neighborhood girl, and learns her father is abusive, Vinnie’s family helps her, her sister, and her mother escape—a turning point that changes everything. Soon, Vinnie is on his own, conning his way through every day with only one thought beyond survival: find the family they helped escape, and reconnect with the girl of his dreams.
I must admit that part of this book’s appeal was, for me, because it described a lifestyle that is so alien to my own. I felt compelled to keep reading to see what would happen next. Vinnie’s family—and later Vinnie himself—made the cons look easy, though that success came with strings. Some of the costs came much later, when Vinnie began to question the life he’d led. But with the strength I’d come to expect from this character, he sorts it out and keeps moving forward.
The entire book is told from Vinnie’s point of view. His story captured me from the very first page and kept me hooked throughout. His fearless determination to survive, no matter what it took, made me like and root for him despite his crimes. The character that shows up on the last page is a highly evolved and stronger version of the boy we see on page one. Knowing how far he had to come to reach that point, I felt proud of him.
One thing to note is that the story is told in Vinnie’s (and his family’s) peculiar patois with terms like “chick” instead of girl, “cat” instead of man, “dig” instead of understand, etc. At first, it was a little hard to follow, but after a few chapters, it no longer distracted me. There were, however, a few places where I had to depend on context for Vinnie’s meaning. It wasn’t enough of a drawback to stop me reading this captivating tale.
Even though this was occasionally hard to read because of Vinnie’s harsh circumstances, I found myself wondering whether people I see in my own city are facing similar hardships. More than once I asked myself what I would do to survive, if I had to. It’s an uncomfortable thing to consider.
The Long Game provokes thought for one’s own life, and compassion for those of others. Recommended.