Sunday, January 12, 2014

Gypsy Boy, by Mikey Walsh

Mikey Walsh, Gypsy Boy. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, 2012. 278 pages. ISBN 9780312622084.

Compared with Running With Scissors, this book tells the story of Mikey Walsh (a pseudonym) who grew up in a Gypsy community in England. This harrowing tale describes the Gypsy culture and its emphasis on living apart from all others, whom they call Gorgias. Mikey's extended family had a tradition of bare-knuckle boxing, and his father tried to train Mikey to take part in this fighting tradition. He started Mikey's boxing training (gloves allowed for children) at the age of four; regularly punching and beating Mikey to develop his fighting skills. He forced Mikey to fight any and all challengers, which were many. Every time the family moved to a new area, their reputation for fighting would cause the local Gypsy boys to challenge Mikey.

Mikey's descriptions of his beatings are difficult to read; it's hard to imagine a society in which this kind of behavior is allowed and encouraged. In the end, at the age of 15 Mikey makes a friend who helps him escape the Gypsy community. On the run for years, he doesn't see his family again until he's 20. Mikey wrote this book using a pseudonym because of his fear that he and others would be endangered if he had written it under his own name. A second book, Gypsy Boy on the Run, was published in 2013.


1 comment:

  1. Wow. It does sound like a difficult book to read. I am so glad that he escaped the Gypsy community that treated him so badly!