Dirty Little Angels

Rated 3.37/5 based on 113 reviews
When the Trosclair family suffers a string of financial hardships and a miscarriage, Hailey Trosclair looks to Moses Watkins, a failed preacher and ex-con for guidance. Gradually, though, Moses’s twisted religious beliefs become increasingly more violent, and Hailey soon finds herself trapped in a world of danger from which there may be no escape.

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About Chris Tusa

Chris Tusa was born and raised in New Orleans. He holds a B.A. in English, an M.A in English, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. Aside from teaching in the English Department at LSU, he also acts as Managing Editor for Poetry Southeast. With the help of a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, he was able to complete his first chapbook of poetry, Inventing an End. His debut collection of poems, Haunted Bones, was published by Louisiana Literature Press in 2006. His work has appeared in Connecticut Review, Texas Review, Prairie Schooner, The New Delta Review, South Dakota Review, Southeast Review, Passages North, Spoon River, New York Quarterly, Louisiana Literature, Tar River, StorySouth, and others. He has studied under a number of notable writers, including Tim Gautreaux, Sidney Wade, and Debora Gregor. His debut novel, Dirty Little Angels, was published by The University of West Alabama in March of 2009. He is currently working on his second novel, In the Valley of Falling Stars, a dark tragicomedy featuring a middle-aged woman who’s convinced she’s been chosen by God to give birth to Jesus Christ.

Tusa’s stories are, in effect, Southern-fried Greek tragedies. In his work, the backwoods Southern Gothicism of Faulkner and O’Connor intersects with a more contemporary, more urban depiction of the South. Typical themes include mental illness as well as the ways in which the contemporary, celebrity-driven American culture has managed to alter the landscape of the traditional Christ-haunted South.

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Review by: pamela chismar on July 11, 2016 :
I won this book from Library Thing member giveaway.

I just loved this book. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it back down until I was finished.
The story of 16 year old Hailey Trosclair and her family. After her mother has a miscarriage, the family seems to fall apart. Hailey is a good girl but falls into all kinds of bad situations, due to things such as environment and friends.
The story is gripping and realistic. There was never a dull moment.
This is one of those stories I could see myself reading again in the future.
(reviewed 5 years after purchase)

Review by: Marilyn Clement on June 15, 2013 :
Certainly, I believe the author was aiming to eviscerate the reader. I believe the author managed to obtain that goal; however, for me, I could not accept Hailey's actions and reactions in the book.Hailey's character appeared to have been portrayed as an intelligent young woman; therefore, I expected her to act intelligently which was not the case.

I could believe everything else in the book, but not Hailey's reactions to her surroundings.

All other characterizations in the book were spot- on. Too bad, this could have been a really good book.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)

Review by: Cindy Holdmann on June 02, 2013 :
I agree that this book had no resolution, was almost completely depressing and the characters had little or no development. It kept shuffling back and forth as the story line had no fluency about it. I did receive a copy of the story for my honest review, and honestly, I would not recommend this to anyone.
(reviewed 32 days after purchase)

Review by: Shari Butterfield on May 20, 2013 :
A story about a girl whose family suffers just about every hardship imaginable: unemployment, miscarriage, injury, affairs, jail time, threat of divorce, alcoholism, eviction, gambling, depression, attempted suicide, violence, murder, and the list goes on.

While initially drawn into the story, I was thoroughly disappointed with the lack of resolution with anything. Injuries weren't healing, violence just kept escalating. Everyone just gave up trying to help themselves. The one positive character in the story couldn't even influence anyone.

I guess I'm too much of an optimist, but this book left me feeling like the glass wasn't half-full...it was empty.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: Tanya Rogers on May 14, 2013 :
I rcvd this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A twisted book about drugs,a family with multiple issues, sex, violence, and mental illness.

I couldnt get into the story. I am glad the book was short as I had to force myself to read it. the charactors are lacking...they need more development so you can understand the storyline.

Not a fan
(reviewed 29 days after purchase)

Review by: kelley king on May 05, 2013 :
This was an okay book I agree with the review by Cori B on many levels. I would probably not read it again. Although I did like some parts of it it was a little hard to follow.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)

Review by: Cori B. on April 17, 2013 :
I think this book is a bit twisted: I didn't like it because of its lack of details and that feeling that events happened at random it gave me, but if I dig a bit deeper into the story I can actually see what the author wanted to communicate. The whole story is boring, without any doubt, and I was glad the book has only 144 pages. I think that more attention to details, and some more development to the plot could have been made this book better.

I received an free copy from the author/publisher for this book in exchange of my honest review. The free copy I received didn’t influence my review, and I gave it my honest opinion.
The story, if looking at it just like a sort of documentary, could have been good; but the way it is told isn't able to reach the reader. I didn't feel a single thing reading this book and I didn't feel close to the characters. I still imagine each character, Hailey included, like some human-shaped figures with no face and without emotions. For me it was like characters were just plain names doing plain stuff, while I guess the whole purpose of the story was to actually transmit something through its characters. Well, it didn't happen for me.

I believe that characters weren't well built, and I think that spending some more time developing them and the plot would have helped.

Things I liked: This isn't a thing I liked actually, because I wasn't able to find it reading the story, but the only good thing I can think about is the message Chris Tusa wanted to transmit. It was there, and I saw it emerging at some point, but it didn't get further than that. I'm talking about how complex life could be if just one thing isn't in place or just doesn't go as it was supposed to. I guess that was the message, and maybe even that life is hard and you have to sacrifice sometimes, but I'm not sure because the story seemed too plain to me.

Things I didn't like: I didn't like the book, as I said before, because of its lack of details, a story going nowhere and that seemed just a list of events happening for no apparent reason, and its characters being just plain. I want to feel characters when I read a book: feel sorry when they are sorry, happy when something good happens to them. In this book this feeling never appeared.

I would recommend this book: No, I wouldn't recommend Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa. I do like what that story could have been, the idea was there, but since it didn't show up I really don't feel like to recommend this book.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)

Review by: Kimberly Scott on Dec. 28, 2012 :
Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa is a look at the darker, seedy, side of life
about a 16 year-old girl named Hailey,
her brother, Cyrus, who tries to look out for her, and has gotten involved with some shady characters
her mother, Lena, who is depressed after a miscarriage,
her father, Jules, who is unemployed and spends most of his time drinking, gambling, and having an affair.

Hailey finds herself attracted to her best friend's boyfriend.
Cyrus introduces her to Moses an ex-con who is planning to change a bank into a drive-thru church.

A dysfunctional family, drugs, sex, violence, cancer, mental illness, Tusa manages to bring it all together in this book, as in real-life, which does not always mean a happy ending.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, rather it be good or bad.
(reviewed 9 days after purchase)

Review by: Rachelle Born on Dec. 26, 2012 :
I won a copy of this book through the LibraryThing member giveaway. All I can say is that this book is amazing. It's horrific, and I don't recommend it if you're someone who gets offended by using Jesus as an excuse to "get even."
The author has a gift for painting pictures through words, and the writing style flowed well. The reader catches a glimpse of the life of a poor family from New Orleans, where the family has its share of dysfunction, but the brother and sister stick together like siblings should.
I look forward to reading more by this author.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: Cynthia Shaffer on Nov. 11, 2012 :
Normally, I have no trouble finding words for a book review. This story is bouncing around in my head, though, and I am not sure what I thought of it or what I want to say about it. It was dark and disturbing. There is no happiness, no bright futures, no light at the end of the tunnel, nothing except bleak despair. Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina comes to mind as something I could compare it to. The stories are as dissimilar as night and day but they both seemed to end with a gritty sucker punch that made me feel like I could suffocate. While I will not say that I enjoyed this book, it is a realistic slice of life, mean and hopeless. I would definitely recommend Tusa to fans of Allison.
(reviewed 29 days after purchase)

Review by: Krizia Anna Lazaro on July 29, 2012 :
I was actually shocked with this book because it was actually good. I've read a lot of free books, books for review and did not like a lot of them but this one is a pleasant surprise. However, the story is not at all pleasant. I was hoping that the ending would be but its not. From the start, Hailey goes on a downward spiral. I think what's good about this book is the characters. I absolutely love Hailey and would love to just help her. She's a good girl the problem is her environment. She was forced to grow up too quickly. I also love the writing, so easy to read. I would recommend it to everybody who loves sad and kind of disturbing stories.
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)

Review by: Natalie Shannon on July 16, 2012 :
Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tulsa is about a young girl named Hailey and the people in her life. Hailey is growing up in New Orleans with her "dysfunctional" family. Hailey's parents are thinking about getting a divorce. Hailey is very close to her older brother Cyrus. Her brother always gets in trouble with the law. Hailey often prays for God to save her family. Hailey in the end has to put things right so her family can be "saved" and be happy again.

I thought that Dirty Little Angels was very realistic in its description of life for a poor young girl. I thought the dialogue was raw and real. The characters were believable and memorable. This book proves that (To quote Moses Watkins) "Some people got to suffer before they get saved" Hailey because of her struggles definitely needs a "dirty little angel" What are the angels dirty for? "They have to eat our souls before we can go to Heaven. The dirt's from our souls. It rubs off on their hands and their mouth when they eat it."
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: Liza Butler on July 12, 2012 :
A story about the family life of a 16 year old girl. What she goes through with a mother who is so distraught over a miscarriage that she seems to forget she has a family. A unemployed father who appears to find solace with a stripper/waitress and booze. A brother who is like her best friend but dances pretty well on the bad side until it catches up with both of them.

After a botched suicide and a murder, the girl realizes that sometimes you have to stop praying and help yourself.

Not a bad story. One of those stories that doesn't really start or end. Like just getting a glimpse into someones life and wondering what happens next.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: dawna jicha on July 11, 2012 :
I became absorbed in this book from the very start. The other reviewers are correct...it is dark, it is gritty, it is edgy, but it is GREAT! This book explores the realities of a family so deep in despair that there seems to be no way out for any of them. Every step they take seems to be another step in the wrong direction, no matter how good the meaning was behind the action in the first place. the characters are real, you believe in them, feel as if you know them. you want to root for them. But as the story moves along, you see that no matter what... not everyone will come out of this unscathed.
I really found the authors writing style to be smooth and easy to follow. The words all seemed to blend seamlessly on the paper to fit into the perfect story. Settle in for a fantastic read folks, This ones guaranteed to satisfy.

I received a free copy of this e-book in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review, only an honest one.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)

Review by: Rita K on June 13, 2012 :
Not exactly the kind of book I usually read. It was very gritty, very dark. If it had been a bit longer more could have been developed in terms of characters, plots - just some tying-up of loose details maybe. While I didn't particularly enjoy it as much as I enjoy most books, it wasn't bad, but the warning was very correct - this is not a book for young people. It seemed quite realistic in terms of characters reacting to their situation and difficult circumstances - not the picture of perfection or someone you'd want to be like but very real in desperation. I liked the title.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: Barbar Eich on June 06, 2012 :
Dirty Little Angels is a good title for this book. I enjoyed this book ( read it in e-book format) The characters, I found were well developed but some of them were left dangling. I got about halfway through this book. This was a good story but would be much better as a regular length book- add some character and story development and it would be an excellent read.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: mirrani on May 31, 2012 :
Dirty Little Angels is, as is suggested in the title, a book with a darker context than most. Focusing on hardships and struggles of the youth of today who find themselves ignored by parents and without much guidance, this is a quick and enjoyable read that gives some hope to someone gone astray finding a better path. Of course, it then takes that hope away from you, but in a way that makes you ponder your own life situation and, at times, makes you grateful for what you have.

I think the story could have been improved upon by pushing at the characters a little bit more, giving them some more substance and a more real feeling. The build up to an abrupt ending was also a sort of put off. I found myself literally looking at the last words and saying, "Is that it? Really?" If you are someone who expects to see someone face the consequences of their actions, this isn't the book for you, but if you are willing to sit for a few hours and spend some time watching a girl with a hard life try to turn it around and reflect on her actions while doing so, this is a book for you.

Note: Though this book was a free gift from the author, the content of my review was in no way influenced by the gifting. The book speaks for itself and my review would have been worded just this way even if I'd gone out and bought it. I also give bonus points for Text To Speech enabling on Kindle format.... but that also wasn't a factor in the above review.
(reviewed 5 months after purchase)

Review by: Renny A on May 22, 2012 :
I don't know why, but I have really mixed feelings about this book. I really can't say that I am disappointed by the book, because I am not and in the same time I feel like the book was missing something, but I really can't put my finger on what the 'something' is. And of course, it doesn't help that the more I think about how to write this review the less I know what to actually write...

Let's take it step by step, first of all, what I liked about the book. I think the book has a great story and although it is a fiction, it can easily be a true story. The book is set in New Orleans in a very run down area. The author doesn't hold back and portrays the struggle of the 16-year-old with her awakening libido, exposure to violence, drugs and a skewed view of a religion as well as trying to make sense (and find who to blame) why the family is falling apart. But to be honest, the little girl has her darker wicked side too and has ways how to cope in this environment. The book offers very interesting insight into a section of a society that is living sometimes on the right side of the law and sometimes dipping on the other side. It shows that the author clearly took the time to do the research.

What I particularly struggled with was to build a bond with the characters (apart from Verma who is very sweet and down to earth). I tried over and over and it just didn't work out for me and as a consequence, I didn't really care about what is going to happened next. And I kind of feel sorry for that because the book is interesting and I should be able to enjoy it more.

For me, this book had all the right ingredients to be a great book but it is missing a 'soul'. I don't know whether I am biased because I have read quite a few exceptional books recently and this one didn't reach the same high mark, which was slightly unsatisfactory. Said that, this book is still a better than average read so try and give it a go, maybe you will have better luck with it than me.

(review copy)
(reviewed 43 days after purchase)

Review by: Heather Wilkinson on May 17, 2012 :
Not sure what I thought of the book. There were a lot of characters in the story that we have no idea what happened to them. I feel like the story needs another chapter to completely close the story up.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)

Review by: Cindy Herrera on May 03, 2012 : (no rating)
Dirty Little Angels is told from the point-of-view of a 16-year-old named Hailey. Her life seems to be a little more hectic than normal. Her mother is depressed after her recent miscarriage, her father is a drunk that would rather be out playing pool than looking for a job, and her brother is out stealing and doing drugs. Despite all that, though, they are a loving family. Hailey and her brother get mixed up with Moses, a 'religious' man who wants to open a drive-through church and punishes sinners. Things get out of hand one day and their lives take a turn for the worse. In the end they will find out who they can really trust.

I found this book to be very interesting and realistic. The characters and situations were believable.
Overall, this was a very good book.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: Lorraine Prickett on April 25, 2012 :
Dirty Little Angels was a slow start start but very good non the less. It is about the hardships of a 16 year old girl and her family life. Kept the pages turning to fine out how it ends.
(reviewed 59 days after purchase)

Review by: Angie Lenkevich on April 21, 2012 :
The Trosclair Family has had it's share of ups and downs lately. Hailey is sixteen years old and trying to cope with her mama being depressed and her daddy doing nothing but drinking since he's been laid off three months before at his meat packing job. Six months ago Hailey's mom had miscarriage and does nothing but lay around in bed. Hailey's brother Cyrus tries looking out for Hailey even though he's on parole again. Cyrus introduces Moses to Hailey. Moses seems alright in Hailey's eyes but is still wary of him. Hailey likes Chase who is dating Hailey's friend Meridan. Hailey goes and visits Verma at the apartment complex doing odds and end things for her. Hailey feelslike their are roaches crawling around her head all the time. Hailey learns her father is cheating on her mom but keeps it to herself. Child molester goes free but Cyrus and Moses beat him up but later finding out he turns up dead. What will happen to Cyrus and Moses? Will Hailey's father find a job? Will Hailey's mom recover from her depression? Will Chase return Hailey's affection? Will the Trosclair Family come together? Your answers await you in Dirty Little Angels.
(reviewed 11 days after purchase)

Review by: Jacquie Talento on April 12, 2012 :
This is the story about a young teen named Hailey and the hardships of life that are happening to her and her family. Her dad is unemployed and her mom is in a depression from a miscarriage she had. Hailey is questioning her faith in God and wondering why he hasn’t answered her prayers to help them thru everything. Her brother, Cyrus has introduced her to a man named Moses. Moses is an ex con and he’s planning on changing a bank into a drive thru church. Moses isn’t such a saint but Hailey is drawn to his belief in God. But is he a good influence to her? This is a different kind of story from the one’s I read but the author brought out some of the trails that haunt young adults in their lives and how they handle them. I’d be interested in reading more of Mr. Tusa’s books.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)

Review by: Darcy Richardson on April 01, 2012 :
I really enjoyed the plot and story development in "Dirty Little Angels." The main character, Hailey Trosclair, is trying to cope with a troubled family life and growing up among people with their seductive vices. I thought the topic of mental illness could have been explored more deeply, however, I applaud the author for discussing it in his novel. The story kept me very interested in the characters, but I would have liked some more development about the characters' inner lives and thoughts. The characters operate in a reactive manner throughout the story. I would also have liked the author to tie in the title, "Dirty Little Angels," into the plot--seemed to be an afterthought with how it is explained toward the end of the story. Overall, I did enjoy this read and would recommend it to others looking for a more "real" glimpse of what it's like to be a troubled teen growing up and being her own parent.
(reviewed 66 days after purchase)

Review by: Liz Fierman on March 20, 2012 : (no rating)
"Dirty Little Angels" by Chris Tusa, is an interesting dark novel about a teenage girl name Hailey Trosclair and her family. She grows up in a poor, distressed community in New Orleans (similar to post Hurricane Katrina) where many problems are bigger than she (drugs, violence, sex, crime) is but Hailey fights to keep it all together after losing her faith in god.

Her mom has become a recluse after a miscarriage her dad spends most of her time drinking and gambling and her brother has gotten involved with some very shady men. Hailey is not perfect she’s empathetic but very angry and wants someone or something to blame.
In my opinion the characters could have used a little more background and depth, some were flat while other exploded off the page. I was left wanting more from this story and Tusa, I felt that there was so much more to tell about Hailey and it left me a little empty.
I know it was a short story but I think it would make a fantastic book.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Sheryl Calmes on March 19, 2012 :
I really liked this book and cannot wait to read more from this author. I liked the gritty realism- damaged people. It was a short read- I picked it up and I did not put it down until I was finished. Really enjoyed it!
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)

Review by: Lisa Lenchanko on March 18, 2012 :
I am not really sure what to make of this book. Very easy read, had I more time I would haven't finished sooner. The teenage girl narrating is typical in setting she was placed. She is influenced by those around her. She struggles with her faith. Looks up to her big brother. She wants the best of both worlds. I struggled with the family's ethnicity for a while. I don't know why exactly. Wasn't the worst book I ever read. Give it a chance.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: Saskia Holditch on March 02, 2012 :
I didn't know what to expect with this title. The main character is 16, and people around her have their problems and their way of dealing with it. Though not an angel herself, she does try to do right with the world - while fully aware that the way to do it is not right at all.
A bit dark, but compelling enough to make you want to find out how it ends.
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)

Review by: Frances Sanford on Feb. 28, 2012 :
Hailey has questions about God, and little wonder... Her brother is pinching statues from graveyards, her mother is lying in bed with a photo of a dead baby and a statue of Jesus and Hailey is hanging around with a self-appointed 'Minister' who takes it upon himself to punish sinners... This book is very readable but very depressing. It raises a lot of questions about the American preoccupation with God and social justice but if you are after a light read, then this is definitely not the book.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)

Review by: C Hieb on Feb. 21, 2012 :
I started and quit. I didn't like it at all. It wasn't written well. But somehow I kept wanting to know what was happening next. I did finish it and it was ok. However, part of me thinks it was a waste of time and the other part is glad I read it.
(reviewed 28 days after purchase)

Review by: barb johnson on Feb. 15, 2012 :
I found this book to start out slow. In fact at one point, I debated about even finishing it! But I am very glad I did. It is a very dark book about how the poor really live and how they think. Once I got into the book I had a hard time putting it down. I will certainly watch for more books from Chris Tusa.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Eustacia Tan on Feb. 04, 2012 :
I managed to finish another ebook today. I think my ebook reading speed has increased! ^_^ Anyway, remember how I was complaining about monotony in my reading (that one period of time where I read a lot of chic-lit)? Well, I can safely say that Dirty Little Angels is unlike those novels.

The novel is one of those disturbing ones that you feel compelled to keep reading. It's really dark, due mainly to the portrayal of the lower-income class. I could actually see this as a novel to be studied in Literature.

Basically, the novel is narrated from the protagonist, Hailey's point of view. It's a rather winding novel, chronicling her day-to-day life. The only thing is that to someone like me, it's a very strange and interesting world. Hailey has got to be in her teens (it's mentioned that her friend and her are below 21) but she smokes, she drinks, smokes pot and well, all sorts of things that I have never dreamt of doing. Basically, it's a far far distance from my sheltered world.

But strangely enough, I couldn't stop reading it. Hailey's story isn't hopeful, conversely, she actually goes into a downward spiral. But somehow, despite all the negativity, and the fact that she smokes, she's a strangely likable character.

This book is short, but worth reading. Especially if you're like me, and you hail from a sheltered world.

Disclaimer: I got this book free from the librarything giveaway. All opinions in this review are my own.

(First published at http://allsortsofbooks.blogspot.com/2012/02/dirty-little-angels-by-chris-tusa.html)
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)

Review by: Carol Hampton on Feb. 02, 2012 :
This book started out interesting and fast paced I quickly became immersed in the story. But, it didn't take long for me feel like I was reading something written by a teenage girl. It became a narration of a story. I didn't feel connected to the characters at all. I began to dislike the girl to the point of wanting to put the book down. You lost me and didn't care one way or the other how it ended. As long as it ended. The plot was good but the telling was not.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Shannon Walters on Feb. 01, 2012 :
Gritty, suspensful. real. I really enjoyed this book and read it rather quickly because I just had to find out what happened to the poor, lost, teenage protaganist. This book has a tendancy to cause personal reflection. What would YOU do in her case? No one is perfect and this book certainly puts a spotlight on that imperfection. I definately recommend this book.
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)

Review by: Fran on Jan. 29, 2012 :
Set in New Orleans, we meet sixteen year old Hailey Trosclair and her family. The story is told by Hailey. The father is an alcoholic and unemployed. The mother had a miscarriage and suffers with depression. Her brother Cyrus spends time working on a car and visiting his friend Moses. Moses is an ex-con, planning a drive through church business.

Hailey’s parents are physically there, but don’t engage with each other, or their children. Hailey spends her time in front of the television, going to school, praying to God to help her family, taking care of her mother and father or interacting with Cyrus and his friends.

Chris Tusa does a good job showing how poverty and this dysfunctional family try to navigate life. I would like to thank Mr. Tusa for allowing me the opportunity to meet Hailey Trosclair.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: Dorothyanne Brown on Jan. 22, 2012 : (no rating)
Lately I signed up for Librarything http://www.librarything.com/, where I immediately volunteered to be an early reviewer. It is madness. You can skim through books coming out soon and then select ones you are interested in and the authors send it to you in exchange for a review!!! Life is very good. For an addict like myself, it allows me to feed my craze with no payment other than writing, which I should be doing already. It’s like cutting back on chocolate by eating caramels.

True, early reviewers have a time limit on reviewing, and many of the books are not as worth spending time with as others, but it’s fun to see what’s out there and sometimes you are very pleasantly surprised. I just finished reading “Dirty Little Angels” by Chris Tusa, for example, and initially wasn’t prepared to like it. All the characters seemed unlikable, no one to root for in it all, the geography was grim in terms of visuals and people. It seemed totally grey. And yet…I got sucked in. I found myself unable to put it down, this story of helpless people surviving in a nasty place. It took me a while to figure out that the protagonist was a girl (I blame reading it at night), and even before I did, I could feel affinity for her creeping in. Heck, I wanted to invite her over and give her hot chocolate, poor wee mite. But she isn’t a poor wee mite. She’s bristly and dangerous in her own way, but with an inner life that is seriously messing with her or saving her. It’s hard to tell.

I never would have picked up this book. But now I know the author and will keep my eyes open for more.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Jacqui Maxfield on Jan. 21, 2012 :
This book was a completely different read than I am used to. I read it as an early reviewer and did like it. Yet it is gritty and I really don't like the swearing. But it fits into the reality of the characters. It is a sad world they live in. One which many of us choose to ignore and be grateful we are not a part of.

I felt sorry for Hailey. She is a victim in a crazy world that surrounds her. No one is stable...not even her. Which makes her just as dangerous as those around her.

It is an easy read. The ending leaves room for a sequel. I do recommend this book.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Henk-Jan van der Klis on Dec. 04, 2011 :
Chris Tusa‘s Dirty Little Angels werd me aangeboden voor een review. Gegeven het beloofde crimi-karakter legde ik de van de auteur gekregen EPUB versie voor aan Klazien. Haar gedachten na gedeeltelijke lezing. En neem van mij aan, ze leest wekelijks heel veel!
Het verhaalt vertelt over een aantal tieners uit een lagere sociale klasse. De moeder van één van hen is klinisch depressief sinds een miskraam en de vader is alcoholist, sinds hij ontslagen is. Het verhaalt over hun gevecht tegen de wereld en tegen de andere tieners in hun sociale klasse en in hun klas. Het verhaal kon mij niet boeien. Erg langdradig over details geschreven: oftewel weinig actie en voortgang. Ik heb het boek dan ook niet uit gelezen. Na 5 hoofdstukken hield ik voor gezien: ik had mijn best gedaan. Trouwens: de e-book versie was erg lastig te lezen – geen mogelijkheden om makkelijk voor of achteruit te springen of naar een bepaalde hoofdstuk of bladzijde te gaan.
(reviewed 65 days after purchase)

Review by: Sheryll Townsend on Nov. 22, 2011 :
A well written, definitely dark coming of age story. Very reminiscent of the Bastard Out of Carolina book or the Poker House movie. Both of those, along with this book, give us a good view of how difficult it can be growing up under the most trying conditions.

It's not an easy read, but it is one that keeps you turning the pages. Even though I would have liked to know what happened after the story ended, I'd certainly recommend this book.
(reviewed 9 months after purchase)

Review by: Tona Cruz Dominguez on Oct. 19, 2011 :
Hailey is a girl/woman fighting to find her way. She is stuck with a Mother to wrapped up in her own life & image. Hailey's father is drowning his pain in alcohol and women. Her brother Cyrus can only find release from his anger by beating others.

I felt the pain and confusion in the story but felt the most turning points of the story were diluted. I was waiting for the happy ending but none ever came. I think this is what made the book easier to relate to. Not every story has a happy ending. Not to say this book is a tragedy far from it. It shows the strength of a family. It shows more depth that most stories. I would recommend this book.
(reviewed 19 days after purchase)

Review by: Jill Bemis on Oct. 15, 2011 :
This is an ugly and brutal tale of teenage life on the poor side of town.

Author Chris Tusa tells a bitter descriptive tale of poverty, brutality and depression that leaves the reader headed to the shower to wash the filth away. Becoming poor white trash would be a step up for teenager Miss Hailey, her family, and so-called friends. Drugs, smoking, sex, and criminal behavior just as normal a part of daily life as brushing one’s teeth, that is if they brush their teeth or have teeth to brush. Unfortunately, the final chapter for these gritty characters is unknown. Only the baby molester, Moses the preacher and a Ferris wheel operator who was killed by brother Cyrus has a happy ending.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: marand on Sep. 28, 2011 :
I read this book with mixed feelings - a good story, but rather depressing. I felt really sorry for Hailey as she realized that she could only count on herself as the family around here were totally unreliable, but predictable. A good ending which I did not see coming. A well written story, but not my kind of book.
(reviewed 37 days after purchase)

Review by: Bill Thibadeau on Sep. 16, 2011 :
A giant thank you to the indie writers that give away their books to us through LibraryThing. I would never have purchased this book outright due to the dark nature of the story. That would have been my loss.

I cannot say this was a quick fun read. It deals realistically with the dark side of the less fortunate and forgotten part of our society. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and their development. The progression of the story through the tribulations of the characters was very well written and kept me engrossed to the very end.

While I was reading, I was thinking "Even though it is well written, what is the point of the story?" Then I had the proverbial light bulb illuminate in my brain. This story made me feel just like I was watching a Hallmark Presents on TV. They are always so well written, that I enjoy them simply for the subtleness of the story. Dirty Little Angels could easily be pitched for prime time. Highly recommend and wish that I could give 4.5 stars.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)

Review by: Nicola Martel on Sep. 15, 2011 :
This is definitely a fun read. It was gritty and painted a rather realistic portrait of lives turned--or slowly turning--sour, off from what everyone really wishes them to be. Tusa gives a protagonist we can truly like, despite her many, many failings (I won't spoil it for you!).

I do have a few complaints, though, and this is why I gave three stars rather than four or five. I think the novel would have benefited from a more thorough edit, specifically for content. As an example, there is a reference somewhere in the text to a missing Cabbage Patch doll eye. Cabbage Patch dolls cannot lose eyes. They are painted on. Perhaps the eye could have been scratched off somehow or painted over? Also, I did not find the descent of the protagonist into mental instability that convincing. The allusion to cockroaches is reminiscent of Rawi Hage's novel, Cockroach, that gives a more convincing portrayal of insanity. That aside, I did enjoy Dirty Little Angels much more than Cockroach.

I love the title and the dual meaning (learned at the end...must read it to understand!) I'd add another half-star to the rating just for this, if I could.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Mike Davis on Sep. 15, 2011 :
I had a bit of difficulty in deciding how to rate this book. I spent nearly 20 years in law enforcement, and families such as Tusa depicts here are the rule rather than the exception in lower socio-economic areas. Consequently, this seemed perhaps less unfamiliar and shocking than it might to the average literature fan. 3-stars on my level.

On the other hand, I suspect this work might be an eye-opener to some, and a conflict between disgust and compassion. The text is well written, there are some interesting metaphorical descriptions, and the story holds together well. 4-stars there.

So I'll call it 3½-stars overall, giving Tusa the benefit of the doubt by rounding upwards. It is a worthwhile book and a good read.

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Ruth Albarran on Sep. 12, 2011 :
This story has a well written but harsh narration about 15 year old Hailey Trosclair and the harsh times she has to endure with her troubled family. The language is strong in this story but even though this is a fiction you might take it as a realistic story. All characters are troubled and have some type of addiction. I think a very good story and should be picked up for a good afternoon reading! Very good message about reality in the lowest levels of society.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: myprecious04 on Sep. 12, 2011 : (no rating)
"Dirty Little Angels", by Chris Tusa was a very interesting book to say the least. Easy read with heart felt emotions going out to its character. Although this story is on the dark side,I would recommend it others. As other reviewer's have mentioned, I would also like to see a sequel. Thank you Chris Tusa for the opportunity to read your book "Dirty Little Angels".
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Terre Brothers on Sep. 11, 2011 : (no rating)
Other reviews have called this a brutal, gritty coming-of-age novel, and it is that.

However I feel such a description might place this story in the wrong category. It is a coming-of-age story in the same way Bastard out of Carolina was; basically a story of someone growing up and into the cruelest knowledge that those around her are damaged and not nearly good enough to be ushering a young soul into adulthood.

Hailey Trosclair is a sixteen year old girl in New Orleans whose father is an unmotivated and unemployed alcoholic and whose mother is a depressive living in the past and clinging to resentments. These people live in only the dreariest sepia tones, and from them springs young Hailey, our first person protagonist who is suffocating for the lack of color. Brother Cyrus is a protective if misguided delinquent, and all adults - save the compassionate neighbor, Verma - fail both Hailey and Cyrus utterly. Her peers don't do much better, as friend Meridian and the inconstant Chase (aptly named) also betray her.

Hailey's coming-of-age is then coming into the knowledge that no one can really be counted upon, and leaving childhood is ugly, demonic work. Even the dirty angels of our world are less dangerous than the wolves in adult clothing.

Reading Dirty Little Angels was an almost effortless experience. Characterizations were rich enough to add rather than detract from the story. Hailey's narrative voice was engaging, even when she was at a loss due to her own splintering despair. The plot rang true, even throughout the more gruesome or depraved acts of some of the characters.

However, this review would not be complete if I did not mention Tusa's gift of imagery. So few novels really pull it off these days, so I was extremely grateful to be carried into this novel by the rich visualizations Tusa's words created.

I was sent this ebook for a review, and I thank for the author for the experience. I certainly hope Chris Tusa continues to write.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: April on Sep. 10, 2011 :
Dark and depressing, but clearly well written. As other reviews have stated, it's a book that you aren't sure if you like or not. The ending was unexpected, which I appreciate - there are too many books with predictable endings that seem to just pander to the audience, but this is definitely not one of them. A good read, but not for everyone.
(reviewed 19 days after purchase)

Review by: lorraine jarvis on Aug. 31, 2011 : (no rating)
Not a bad story but hated the ending. I was hoping for more. Too many loose ends.
Maybe a sequel?
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)

Review by: Khrystine Kelsey on Aug. 27, 2011 :
This book is good, but disturbing. I wouldn't read it if you were depressed. It is not uplifting. Everything in this book seems dirty and potentially dangerous. This is one of those books I can't deny was good, but I didn't exactly like it.
(reviewed 71 days after purchase)

Review by: Rebecca Ford on Aug. 25, 2011 :
I really enjoyed reading this book. Though, I wish it were a little longer, and we got to find out what happens after the end of the story.

This book is about a teenage girl who lives in New Orleans. Her family is very disfunctional. Her Mother is terribly depressed after a miscarraige, and stays up in her room all day. Her father is a jobless drunk, who is too proud too take a minimum wage job- and unable to pay their bills. Her brother is hanging out with the wrong crowd, and having his sister tag along. He thinks he is being a good brother, protecting her, but in reality he is showing her the harshness and the crulity of the world.

I don't want to say exactly what happens, because in just a few paragraphs I could tell you the whole story and ruin it for you! But this is basically a coming of age story (like the rest of the reviews say) of a girl trying to find her spot in this world, and clinging onto all the bad things, not knowing the difference, and not having anyone to show her better. She facing things that most people never have to experience in their lives. And in the end, all the bad influences start to rub off on her, and she makes a decision that will effect her the rest of her life.

I really hope that the Author makes a sequal to this book. I really enjoyed it and hope that I get to find out why the things that happened, happened. And also the outcome of everything. I would have given this book 5 stars, but I gave it 4 because at the end it really left things hanging, not knowing what to think.
(reviewed 35 days after purchase)

Review by: justmax on Aug. 12, 2011 :
Dirty Little Angels is a dark and gritty coming-of-age tale of growing up poor in New Orleans. It is both compelling and thought-provoking and, at times, very depressing but it is also about hope and faith and love within families. This is definitely not a book for everyone, there are no happy endings here, but if you like books which force you to think, then you should give this one a try.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Mandy Shemery on July 26, 2011 :

The cover photo is pretty self-explanatory ... especially when looked at after reading the book's summary. I'm glad the photo was kept in black and white instead of color. It has a more neglected feel to it.

Plot/Main Characters

The story is told from Hailey's point of view. Right away we are introduced to her family:

Cyrus, Hailey's older brother who hangs out with the wrong people and will eventually get into trouble because of it;

Jules, Hailey and Cyrus' father, who lost his job and is now struggling to provide for his family ... although he doesn't seem to be trying too hard to find actual work; and ...

Lena, Hailey and Cyrus' mother, who is so lost in her own grief she barely realizes what is going on around her.

Realistically written, this story felt ... gritty. You follow a girl's life as she struggles to find love, acceptance and her place in this world. Unfortunately, she begins life at a disadvantage by being from the "wrong side of the tracks." I believe this pre-disposed Hailey to enter into various life situations she wouldn't have encountered otherwise.


This can be classified as an emotionally disturbing 'coming-of-age' tale, which feels all too familiar. We've all known or seen a person in these circumstances. If you haven't, well, maybe you should. It would help you get a more realistic perspective on a life different from your own.
(reviewed 6 months after purchase)

Review by: Gail Bower on July 09, 2011 :
The story seemed to begin a little slowly, but as it unfolded I found myself thoroughly engrossed. It has stayed with me since I finished the last page. The characters are very real and, though deeper, darker and more complicated than most, the problems are those of family life.
Told from the point of view of 16 year old Hailey Trosclair, it paints a dark picture of a poor family in New Orleans struggling to cope with unemployment, drugs, infidelity and crime. Hailey is trying to hold her family together as she is learning to deal with right and wrong, her own sexuality, understanding the people she cares about and her own relationship with God. She is coping with all this without much support from her family members who are all deeply enmeshed in their own problems. In frustration she attemps suicide. Her struggle with religion is further complicated by her mother's "born again" attitude and an evil character named Moses who eerily uses Bible quotations for his own devilish purposes.
Being 16 is difficult at best and Hailey is trying to save her family to the possible end of sacrificing herself.
A well written thought provoking book with a fitting ending.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Hannah Hummel on July 08, 2011 :
If I had a dollar for every sentence in Dirty Little Angels that blew my mind, I'd be able to buy a decent Chevy Nova outright. Christopher Tusa is a new and powerful voice in American fiction, and I truly believe that this raw and poetic first novel marks the beginning of a great and glorious career.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Kiki on July 03, 2011 :
Just wow. Can't say if I liked this one or not - definitely not a pick-me-up kind of book. However, the characters, the environment, the plot, everything was so real, so well-executed you can't help but be drawn in
(reviewed 52 days after purchase)

Review by: samantha weiler on June 30, 2011 :
This book was okay, the subject matter was a little depressing for me. It was written quite well, although there were a few too many repeated descriptions.
(reviewed 14 days after purchase)

Review by: gb726 on June 29, 2011 :

Compelling but depressing, Chris Tuksa creates a dark story about the life of teenage girl in a troubled community. As things seemed to get worse and worse I became more engrossed in the book (which, at it's length was a very quick read). Despite an interesting story I had two main problems with this story. First, I despised every single character and found myself not caring about any of them. Even the main character Hailey was completely unlikable. My second problem was the ending. I am not one of those who needs everything tied up in a bow but to end it like how it was done was so frustrating. I would have been happy with SOMETHING that indicated what was to coming but to end it like that felt cheap to me. However, before I reached the poor ending I did find myself enjoying it.
(reviewed 48 days after purchase)

Review by: Angela on June 29, 2011 :
Chris Tusa’s “Dirty Little Angels” follows Hailey Trosclair, a misguided, impressionable fifteen year old through her flirtations with promiscuity, violence and drug use. She has an unemployed, alcoholic father that spends all his time in pool halls and strip clubs, a mother who is clinically depressed after a miscarriage and a brother that introduces her to a whole cast of miscreants. I would recommend to anyone wanting an intimate look into the lives of a dysfunctional family.

As a parent I was deeply disturbed by the acts committed by the urban teens and by the lack of parental involvement. I also couldn’t help but think that the protagonist, Hailey, could have avoided many of her problems if instead of the self centered adults she had in her life, she had just one positive role model. I think the author intended to make family friend, Verma, out to be a savior, but the character development just wasn’t there.

The only suggestion I would make is to increase the length of the novel to include details of what happened to the characters. I feel there were a couple of unfinished story lines to which I didn’t feel closure.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and would highly recommend it. Some books with similar storylines and/or characters are “Catcher in the Rye,” “Running with Scissors,” and “Angela’s Ashes.”
(reviewed 13 days after purchase)

Review by: Margaret (Literary Chanteuse) on June 18, 2011 :
This was excellent!!! I found I was attached to the characters instantly and cared as the story went on.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)

Review by: Wilma workman on June 18, 2011 :
This is not an ordinary novel.It sends many messages to thwe reader.the story is told from the point of view of a 16 year Hailey Trosclair.a teenager who has seen her share of misery. She has a father who is an alcoholic and unemployed which has brought the family to financial ruin.Her mother who is depressed after having a miscarriage and leaving the children to grieve in a different manner.

There is a man Moses Watkins who Hailey trust and puts her faith in.He turns out to be a religious con-artist.

This story makes you glad of the environment you grew up in if different from this.

This book is under 200 pages but is a good read and I would recommend it.It is not for teens ,it contents .sexual content,drugs and violence.It was sent to me from the author Chris Tusa for my review.Through Smash words.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Judy on June 17, 2011 :
This book was well written and held my interest to the end. It was quite depressing at times. It was sad to see what alcohol and depression can do to a family. I did not like the part with the animal cruelty. I thought the ending was sad.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)

Review by: Whea on June 16, 2011 :
I read this book in one sitting. It was a story that intensely conveyed the desperation of a teenager and her dysfunctional, poverty-stricken family.

Hailey's dealings with her family are heartbreaking: the out-of-a-job, alcoholic father; the spoiled mother, suffering depression from a miscarriage and seemingly unable to care about her living kids; and the caring older brother who wants to keep her away from it all. Each character is three-dimensional, relate-able, and real.

The one thing I didn't like was that everyone sounded the same. If the names were taken away from the quotes, I wouldn't have a clue who was saying what.

Beyond that, though, everything about this book was great. It was an emotional roller coaster, and the use of figurative language was clever and helpful. Recommended to readers who liked What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Lissa Faulkner on June 15, 2011 :
This is a well written story that examines a young girl's life.

I most intrigued by Hailey's juxtaposition with the rest of the people around her. Hailey didn't seem to blend with her family as her mother kept waiting for another entity to help her after the loss of her unborn son. Her father exhibits avoidance by spending every possible moment away from his now dysfunctional family, and Hailey is left to survive in this world. Hailey, however, seemed to examine herself and move forward.

The writing was simplistic, concentrating upon mundane everyday events, which complemented the story well. I would recommend this to more mature teenagers and young adults as well as older adults who like this type of coming of age novel.

I would like to say thank you to Chris Tusa for the contribution to Library Thing's Member Giveaway. This is a book I would have never read otherwise since it is something that I wouldn't normally read. It was different, but it was a good, dark read that examined the dark corners of family life.
(reviewed 30 days after purchase)

Review by: Vicki Forcina on June 14, 2011 :
This book packed a punch-it covered a lot of deep topics in a small amount of pages. Tusa's language and use of imagery was beautiful even when discussing a dark topic such as death. I immediately felt a connection with the main character Hailey and could almost hear the drawl in her voice as I read. My only confusion with this book is whether or not it is a young adult or adult novel. The subject matter is very mature, but the main characters are all young and dealing with issues that might not affect adults as much. That being said, I think this was a very well-written book. I think the ending fit the book well even if it wasn't very positive.
(reviewed 89 days after purchase)

Review by: Elizabeth Fletcher on June 14, 2011 :
I really enjoyed this book. I just wish the book was longer. It was easy reading. I always like these types of Southern stories of the hard lives people live. This is a good story of a teenage girl having to make the correct decisions in life despite never being taught how to.
(reviewed 32 days after purchase)

Review by: Michelle Bridges on June 12, 2011 :
While reading this book I enjoyed it. The writing was simple, captivating and a throughly interesting read. The book is written from the female protagonist's view, and she is 16 so some of the thought processes are written to imagine what she was going through. The characters are believable and I connected with them. However I was dissapointed with the end of the book I thought it was too abrupt and didn't leave me feeling concluded, it left me feeling as if there were supposed to be more of the book. Overall I would recommend this book to mature teens and adult readers, however I don't think this will be one of the best books you will have every read.
(reviewed 5 months after purchase)

Review by: LS W. on June 08, 2011 :
I'm only half way through this book. I borrowed an ereader to make reading easier than on the computer. I like this book. It's very easy to read it. Very down to earth writing. The main character is 16 and the story is told in her point of view. Like I said, I am not done this book yet, but it won't be long. I recommend you get this book.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Mark Goodwin on June 05, 2011 :
A dark novel told from the prespectve of a 16 year old female, confused by the twisted and dysfunctional part of society in which she finds herself. Characters are well developed and the book ends in an appropriate manner but don’t be looking for a fairy-tale ending. A worthile read.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)

Review by: Rigby4 on June 05, 2011 :
The simplicity and resignation of the main character, Hailey, is heartbreaking. Hailey is a 16 year old girl with a pile of trauma behind her, beginning with her family. She had no positive influence and although I felt she was doomed to the same life that her parents and brother led, she persisted in searching for something more. If not hope, tenacity is a constant quality. The story elicits compassion.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)

Review by: Ide Ojo on May 25, 2011 :
Hailey is a 16years old girl who simply is yearning for love from her parents. Unfortunately, she belongs to what can only be described as a very dysfunctional family. She seeks love from places where she knows love will be hard to find. Deeply traumatised, and feeling unseen by the world around her, she descends into a desperately dark world. The question here is will she the security she craves for?

There are some dark humour and some vulnerability you find in lives like these.
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)

Review by: Elizabeth Miller on May 23, 2011 :
Wow... Straight to the gut story telling that makes you think. 16 year old Hailey is having a very bad year and she tells her story with no holds barred. Its the kind of story that makes you angry for any kids that has to remotely put up with even part of what happens to this girl. Good Job!!!
(reviewed 67 days after purchase)

Review by: Krystal Larson on May 22, 2011 : (no rating)
Good Reads Summary:
Set in the slums of New Orleans, among clusters of crack houses and abandoned buildings, Dirty Little Angels is the story of sixteen year old Hailey Trosclair. When the Trosclair family suffers a string of financial hardships and a miscarriage, Hailey finds herself looking to God to save her family. When her prayers go unanswered, Hailey puts her faith in Moses Watkins, a failed preacher and ex-con. Fascinated by Moses' lopsided view of religion, Hailey, and her brother Cyrus, begin spending time down at an abandoned bank that Moses plans to convert into a drive-through church. Gradually, though, Moses' twisted religious beliefs become increasingly more violent, and Hailey and Cyrus soon find themselves trapped in a world of danger and fear from which there may be no escape.

The author really captures the young adult mind-set and feeling in this novel. The novel is very "dark", even depressing; however, the author means to represent a certain reality in many societies. The reader will have to restrain her/himself throughout the book from wanting to shake the characters and tell them what to do, however, this is likely the author's intention. A good author evokes a response in the reader, a quality Tusa has down pat. Hailey makes for a good protagonist, definitely eliciting sympathy in the reader. Her brother is arrested at least three times for stealing, yet doesn't attempt to change his lifestyle and doesn't consider Hailey at all. Hailey's mother is no role-model and constantly depressed; Hailey is surrounded by drinking, fights, drugs, etc... The author's writing style kept the reader interested throughout the majority of the book, some of his words and/or phrases were a tad redundant in areas, but otherwise good. The reader may feel that there is no "guide" in this novel, a trait that could be seen as negative, but the author crafts into a positive trait-the book builds upon itself, the plot unfolding slowly and the characters developing throughout the novel. Hailey gives an "assumed to be" true account of the events surrounding her. The ending could have used more explanation and detail, but the reader will be mostly satisfied.
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)

Review by: Kath Richardson on May 19, 2011 :
I've struggled with this book and have given up halfway through.

It's perfectly readable, although not well written. The language and structure is simple, but too simple. I haven't read anything that makes me care about the main characters and am not interested in what happens next.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)

Review by: Cynthia Parker on May 18, 2011 :
Very realistic look at urban New Orleans. Chris Tusa depicts his characters with such realism that they could live anywhere in the US. Having lived in Louisiana for several years, Tusa's writing brought back vivid memories of traveling to New Orleans. This book is not for children or young adults. It brings to light the turmoils a teenager has to deal to with in her family and friends. A must read for everyone to remind them how fortunate they are in life.
(reviewed 28 days after purchase)

Review by: Amber Carroll on May 12, 2011 :
Hailey is a teenage girl in the middle of a crazy life. Her dad has been out of work for months, her mother barely gets out of bed and her brother has been arrested several times. Hailey loves her brother and spends much of her time with him and his friends, this tends to get her into sticky situations. This is a very intense story about a family in turmoil.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Crystal Waldrum on May 12, 2011 :
Although more short story than novel, or novelette, it was an interesting read. The author, Chris Tulsa, brings to life the every day American family right now. Families struggling with enforced poverty due to a struggling economy. He also deals with the adolescent struggles of being 16 in a world of sex, booze and drugs.

I found myself drawn to Hailey, our 16 year old heroine. The struggles of her family are centre to her own world. Her mother was injured and unable to work, her father unemployed when his factory shut down, her brother involved in street thuggery (yep, made that one up) and she trying to find herself and define her role within the family and society.

It's easy to relate with the characters find yourself time warped to your own generation and how this story could have been you. However the writer needs to work on the basics of writing. There were several grammatical errors (not including those that were on purpose due to the New Orleans drawl) as well as some spelling errors. A proof read by an outside party could eliminate this and make the story more drawing and less distracting. Thankfully my Kobo does not have red pen capabilities!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Angie Creech on May 11, 2011 :
This story follows a 16-year-old girl through a very difficult time in her life. This book is dark and somewhat depressing when you read all the turmoil that happens in one girl's life. This is not a feel good book so if you are not in the mood for an intense story, then I would not recommend reading this right now, wait until you are in the right mood.
(reviewed 20 days after purchase)

Review by: Robin Bullard on May 09, 2011 :
Hailey Trosclair is an adolescent girl with little supervision. Her mother is in a world of her own after a miscarriage and her father is out of work and spends most of his time at the pool hall. Her brother watches out for her, but moves in rough circles. The New Orleans she lives in is no fairy tale. She faces sex, drugs, violence, betrayal, and death. This is a vivid book with a realistic glimpse into the unsightly neighborhood of poverty.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: Tamara Montano on May 03, 2011 :
Thank you Early Reviewer Giveway and Mr. Tusa for selecting me to share my thoughts on this book. I loved the vivid realism of this novel and the no nonsense approach to the lives of these characters. I found a different message in the story than the other reviewers, and I don't know if this was intended by the author or something I found within the characters. First was that all of these characters were hoping that someone or something more powerful was going to fix their lives and problems. Hailey watched her mom mourn both the lose of a baby and the lose of higher income bracket, and she also watched her mom to pray to God to change things for her. I felt the mom mourned the lose of income more than the infant. Cyrus was the typical avenger and righter of wrongs, and follower of the con-artist Moises, who exploits Cyrus's need for justice to carry out his dirty work. The father unemployed has drowned himself in vices of gambling, women, and booze, always hoping for the big payday. While all of these characters wasted time waiting for change, and cashing in their self-reliance, their choices for a better life slowly burn away leaving the only possible outcome which is equally brutal and a waste of a girl. I loved how the novel made me think, and I would readily recommend this well written story.
(reviewed 70 days after purchase)

Review by: RAVENSWOOD PUBLISHING on May 02, 2011 :
I think it's been a long time since I have read a story that took me back to my teenage years. Hailey, on the cusp of womanhood goes through so many emotions a lot of which I remember myself experiencing at that age. Chris Tusa has done a remarkable job capturing the depth of feeling and turmoil of a 16 year old girl from a middle-class family background rift with alcoholism, depression, and on the verge of complete poverty, struggling to keep them all together while giving up a part of her own sanity.

At times during reading this book there were so many thoughts that paralleled with things I could remember from my own time as a 16 year old that it was simply amazing to read. I felt as if Chris had stood up and allowed Hailey to take his seat at the computer and tell her story first hand. It's rare you find a man able to so effectively capture what it was really like to be a teenage girl in Louisiana trying so hard to hold it all together while questioning not only her faith but her own place in the grand scheme of life.

This book was a fantastic read and I would definitely recommend it to any one that enjoys stories that are real and gritty, that can grab you up and toss you into the lives of these very real characters. Without giving away too much I will only say, caution when reading this book... be prepared for some dark times in the life of Hailey Trosclair.
(reviewed 12 days after purchase)

Review by: tahenrysbx on May 01, 2011 :
Overall, I truly enjoyed this story. It was heart wrenching at times and author Chris Tusa never sugarcoats anything; which I find very refreshing at a time where most people are afraid to speak their mind for fear of offending someone. Tusa is incredibly descriptive. Describing everything with so much detail that you really feel you can see what is happening right in front of you. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage to his writing. I felt that there were times I was almost sick from the descriptions, however, I must concede that this keeps his writing very true to the narrator. Tusa made me feel for narrator Haylie and her family from the very beginning. The misfortunes this family deals with throughout the story are astonishing. I did feel, however, that for a book of only 110 pages, there may have been a few too many hardships to be believable. In these 110 pages, which take place over a very short time in Haylie’s life, the characters face: miscarriage, infidelity, abortion, amputation, fighting, thievery, depression, poverty, suicide attempts, molestation, murder, problems with drugs, drinking, gambling, debt, and a few things I may be forgetting. All of these, in such a short novel, make following the storyline hard at times. In the end, I think Tusa did a very good job of pulling it all together and making sense of it all. I was left heartbroken for Haylie and her family and longing to know what happens next.
(reviewed 42 days after purchase)

Review by: Barbara Palmer on April 26, 2011 :
This wasn't an instant favourite for me. I found the lead character to be vacant and divorced from the emotional turmoil around her. It could just be me, but I found there was so much going on it the book it became a case of everything louder than everything else. With so much happening nothing was able to stand out.
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)

Review by: кєяo T on April 15, 2011 :
When God doesn't answer your prayers, you have to take matters into your own hands. Matters like what? Matters like saving Mom and Dad's marriage, saving Cyrus, and keeping your family in one piece. Hailey's family has been through much miseries. With a mother recovering from a miscarriage and a father jobless for five months, Hailey figures her parents' marriage is going to end up in a divorce. Her brother Cyrus can't seem to stay out of trouble either. Besides, their financial hardships may eventually end them up in losing their house. Hailey and Cyrus often hang out in an old abandoned bank with a man called Moses. His lopsided religious beliefs eventually drive them to commit a crime. Finally, Hailey and Cyrus find themselves in yet another trouble, their life in danger from Moses.
I received an electronic copy of this book for review from the author Chris Tusa on Librarything Member Giveaway. The book is narrated by 16-year-old Hailey Trosclair who lives in a poor family in New Orleans. I don't read books with much violence but I liked this book.
You can check out my review on:
(reviewed 30 days after purchase)

Review by: K. Wodke on April 15, 2011 :
This well-written book tells the tale of a teen and her brother who become involved with a self-professed preacher who uses his religion to justify a life of violence and drugs. The setting is New Orleans, an unstable family, and misguided young people. When the preacher kills a young man in front of the brother and sister, he then turns his animosity toward the brother, whom he believes has ratted him out. As the book races toward its conclusion, it is difficult to put down.
I am impressed with the writing as well as the difficult content of this novel. The author did not pull punches or try to garner sympathy for his characters. He merely relates the events in a clear and engaging manner. I recommend this book.
(reviewed 16 days after purchase)

Review by: April on April 08, 2011 :
To be honest, I felt the synopsis was misleading. While Hailey is essentially gutter-trash, she doesn't appear to live in the "slums", and while her family does have it's hardships (though the financial issues are largely due to the laziness of the father), and though God is mentioned....she doesn't really look to Him all that much. And while the issue with Moses is the one conflict in the story, he's not even that central of a character.

I know this story is supposed to be dark and gritty, and I suppose for those who haven't been "across the tracks" it truly is. But, I wonder if it's meant more for shock value. There is no real emotion in this book with Hailey. She does certain things for no other reason than because she can, not caring or even seeming to process consequences, about how it would affect others. Several scenes just seemed too impulsive.

I did like the idea behind the story though, and think with a little polishing, this could be a great book. It is "different", in that it's not all sunshine and rainbows. It shows that sometimes, in some people's lives, things aren't all that great. In fact, they are down-right terrible. For anyone wanting to read a not-so-happy short fiction, this may be right up your alley. As for me, I like a little more meat to my story, and will probably not re-read it anytime soon.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Amanda on April 07, 2011 :
Wow. Here's a novel you dont get to read everyday. When I started reading I immediately thought that this is some twisted story. But I couldnt put the book down, I kept turning the pages to see what would happen next. The story is fast paced and if it werent for the easy writing I wouldve gotten lost in all the things happening in Hailey's life. Hailey's family is being torn apart and being only sixteen years old, she tries everything to try and save her family and her own life from being ruined. She have the wrong friend and meets the wrong people. Her brother Cyrus and his new friend Moses's belief that you should take action yourself ends badly when they accidentally murder a young boy and Hailey's life turns copletely upside down. A failed suicide attempt and dangerous threats makes this girl even more desperate. All she wants is for her family to be saved and happy. So amidst having to deal with her own personal problems in a neighborhood where sex, drugs, alcohol and violence is the flavour of the day, she intervenes with her parents and brother's life too. Hailey would do anything for her loved ones. Even commit murder. A very touching story that moved me deeply.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Charissa Howe on April 07, 2011 : (no rating)
Full review available at: http://www.thesquirrelfactor.com/2011/03/wednesday-book-review-dirty-little.html
(reviewed 31 days after purchase)

Review by: Lauren Aileen on March 30, 2011 : (no rating)
I must say, I struggled with this review for quite some time. I wasn't sure exactly how I felt about the book. Entertaining, definitely. Well-written, yes. But it was difficult. Trapped in a section of New Orleans that is decaying, Hailey, her brother, and her friends have little else to do besides sex, drugs, and violence.

When Hailey's brother (and ultimately, everyone) becomes entwined with a rogue preacher named Moses, who spews religious venom as an excuse to act badly, the downward spiral quickens.

It was a tough read because you felt for the characters, as unlikeable as they were. Each character, at some point in time (with the exception of one that I can think of), wears their heart on their sleeve- and you want to like that part of them. Unfortunately, these good intentions are often wrapped in violent mysteries, horrible choices, and extreme emotions. It makes you think- how would I act if I were stuck in these situations?
(reviewed 33 days after purchase)

Review by: Karen Langley on March 28, 2011 :
I liked the book very much. After the warning to readers I was expecting something much more violent or graphic than the book actually was. It was disturbing, but mostly because through the characters it showed how easy it is to become numb to such a horrible life and to just assume that what you know is 'normal'. I did find the suicide attempt rather passed over, and in fact, I had the feeling for most of the book that I was waiting for something to happen but 'it' never did. All in all though, a good read.
(reviewed 34 days after purchase)

Review by: Toni L on March 27, 2011 :
As the other reviews suggest, this is not a book for the "light reader". As told from the perspective of a troubled female teen, Dirty Little Angels is one of the most well written and disturbing novels I have read in a very long time. My favorite and least favorite conclusion from this book was that it likely models some girl living in the United States right now.

It is difficult to keep your distance from the characters in this novel. While I didn't want to, I consistently felt sorry for Hailey, her family, and every person she came in contact with. Besides her brother, there didn't seem to be one genuine person in the story. And that is not to say that Hailey was any kind of saint. She, like those around her, fell victim to the universally accepted, nonconstructive activities of her neighborhood.

An interesting, gritty, disturbing "coming of age" take, not at ALL made for Disney.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)

Review by: Hira H on March 22, 2011 :
Chris Tusa's "Dirty Little Angels" is not for the faint of heart. It is a gritty and raw novel, depicting life in the inner city. Tusa presents a stark perspective, real in its portrayal, and never sugar-coated. This is the quality that makes Tusa's novel worth a read. Although, it doesn't hurt the book any to have wonderful characterization and an interesting plot, either.

Our protagonist is 16 year old Hailey Trosclair, a teenager who has seen her share of misery in her short life. Hailey narrates the plot, and introduces us to her family. There's the father, a selfish, unfaithful, selfish man who also happens to be an alcoholic - he is responsible for the family's financial ruin. Then there is the mother, wallowing in her misery after a miscarriage, and leaving her kids to grieve in a wholly different manner. The older brother, who is protective and life's realities have turned him tough. There is the witty, comic-relief of a friend in Verma. And finally, there's Moses - Moses Watkins, a man who Hailey comes to trust and puts her faith in. All Moses is concerned about, though, is starting a "drive-thru" Church. It speaks to the awful psychological condition of our friend Hailey, that the man she has faith in, happens to be a man who is a religious con-artist.

If you're looking for fluff to read, this book is not for you. If you're looking for a wonderfully written novel, with characters that are perfect in their imperfections, hauntingly real and beautiful - than this might be the book to pick up. The story is interesting, the character's perspectives are presented in a unique manner, the author's voice is strong and clear in presenting its point and he makes some great usage of metaphors that had me clamoring to write them down somewhere. Also, its clear that Tusa has spent some time in the places that he describes, because he not only describes them with stunning precision, but also with passion. I had never before read Chris Tusa's work, but after this novel, I will be sure to follow his works closely.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Andrea Schafthuizen on March 18, 2011 :
Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa is a story about sixteen year old Hailey who is from a poor family in New Orleans coping with abandonment, unemployment, violence and intertwined with her interpretations of religion and God. Hailey, the youngest child, feels the weight of her family’s problems on her shoulders. She feels abandoned by her mother who has isolated herself from the family after suffering a back injury followed by a miscarriage. After the miscarriage, her mother has become born-again and there are only pictures of Jesus and the ultrasound of the dead baby. Hailey figures that in her family “it was as if you had to be dead to get noticed.” Her mother prays for the family to become saved. But Hailey thinks no one is listening. Her father has lost his job and spends much of his time drinking and gambling, so Hailey drifts into spending more and more time with her older brother, Cyrus. Cyrus who has already been arrested three times, hangs around an older ex-con with a violent past named Moses. Moses says he is starting his own church. He steals his sermons from and another preacher and whose idea of “saving” people is to go and “beat the Word of God” into them. As Hailey goes through the motions of daily living, and hanging out with Cyrus, she participates in ever slightly more immoral actions. In every situation you are drawn in, rooting for Hailey to do the right thing, to start herself on the road to redemption, but you are not surprised when she doesn’t. Hailey’s parents are so wrapped up in their own problems they don’t see the disintegration of their family happening around them until we reach the final inevitable but avoidable conclusion.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)

Review by: Jessica Adams on March 15, 2011 :
I received this book free from the author in exchange for a review, so thanks to Tusa for making that possible. Overall though, I felt like this book wasn't quite right. The main character, Hailey, is a middle class white 16 year old from New Orleans, but that's not how it reads in the book. In the book I really felt like she was much younger, maybe 9 or so, and that she was a little too nonchalant about the drugs and sex and beatings going on around her for someone who supposedly grows up in middle class suburb. Or did she? That part is never really explained in detail, and there seems to be a lot of conflicting information.
The first page sucks you right in with beautiful imagery reminicent of She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, but the rest of the book doesn't follow. It reads more like a short story than a full novel because of the lack of detail written in about the characters' thoughts and motives. The book flips back and forth from a great book to a mediocre book. Hailey herself seems a little bit more damaged than a 16 year old with no other problems other than two unemployed parents and an unfaithful father really should be. She seems totally willing to follow around Moses, who plays the evil man in the book, but doesn't really feature front and center as much as the book description would lead you to believe.
Although some have described this book as gritty and real, I felt like the plot was a little overdone, and forced. Although Tusa writes beautifully at times, the overall story was a little lacking and weak.
Overall, its a book that has its moments. 3 stars.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Norma Wills on Feb. 28, 2011 : (no rating)
This is a gritty tail told from the eyes of a 16 year old named Hailey. Hailey attempts to put into perspective her alcoholic father, her depressed mom, and her miscreant brother.

This author definitely has a way with descriptions and metaphors. A perfect example would be “I could feel little pinpricks of light behind my eyes, my muscles started to squirm like a black nest of moccasins, and my blood felt like chiggers wriggling under my skin.”

Hailey’s mom spends her days laying listlessly in bed staring at an ultrasound picture of the baby she had recently miscarried. One reason that she gives for not being able to go back to work is because she hurt her back months ago.

Her father was laid off from work and now spends his days drinking, playing pool and betting on horses. However, at night, he spends his time either sleeping on the couch at home or sleeping with Iris, the waitress from the local Mexican restaurant.

Her brother has been arrested several times. He hangs out with a really rough crowd. Drugs and violence are common themes in his life.

This was a really great read, but if you like all light and fluff in stories, then don’t read this. This book shows the dirty underbelly of humanity at its worst.

I received a copy of this ebook from LibraryThing Member Giveaways in exchange for a review.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Alison Forde on Feb. 26, 2011 :
I have just finished reading Dirty Little Angels and found it to be pretty readable and even nicely written in parts (although some metaphors are over used - are there really so many people in New Orleans with a rats' nest for hair?). The story centers on Hailey (16 year old girl) and her older brother, getting themselves into trouble while their self absorbed parents are looking the other way. I would recommend this title as a good one for older teens who are reluctant readers, as it's short and easy to identify with the teenage protagonists. There is violence and some fairly negative sexual experiences(probably fairly realistic for sixteen year olds with poor self esteem!) but nothing I would have a problem with my own 15 year old reading.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)

Review by: J. Robert Ewbank on Feb. 22, 2011 :
This book by Tusa is a very interesting one about being raised in the slums of New Orleans. I found the book interesting and enjoyed it. Some of the characters seemed to be emotionally a little "leveled" in which they were not as acting out as I would have expected, however enjoyed the main characters.

J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: sherry ducombs on Feb. 21, 2011 : (no rating)
Chris Tusa's book, Dirty Little Angels shows the darker side of New Orleans through the words of Hailey Trosclair, a sixteen year old trying to stay sane and keep family and friends together as she is confronted with one ugly situation after another.
Hailey's mother,who was cut off from her upper income family when she married Hailey's lower income father, has given up on life since a recent miscarriage. Family friend, Verma, their neighbor, is an old, wise black woman, dealing with complications of diabetes. She is the moral compass for Hailey and the family, trying to guide them in the right direction. She is in contrast to Moses, an ex-con preacher, with his pitbull, Hitler,who wants to have a drive-in church where people can pick up their sermons at a drive through window.
Hailey and her brother Cyrus become embroiled with Moses in a one night brawl involving a child pedophile from the West Bank that sends them on a downward spiral of confusion and mixed signals, resulting in suicide attempts, severed fingers and a riveting conclusion. Hailey's mental breakdown is her turning point. Rather than waiting for God to determine her fate and the fate of her family, she decides to take charge of her situation to save herself and her family. Hailey gives up on God and takes justice in her own hands. Is Hailey the dirty little angel? Read it and find out for yourself. These characters are vivid and very believeable. Chris Tusa has a bright future. He does Southerners proud with his contemporary, timely language and vivid description of characters and landscapes. I can't wait to see the movie.
Sherry Ducombs February 21, 2011
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)

Review by: patricia boyce on Feb. 20, 2011 :
Reviewed by Patricia Boyce on Feb 20

Dirty Little Angels begins with a woman whose husband is not of the social and economic standing as she is.She being disowned by her family lives in a gehtto community.After suffering a miscarriage and her husband becoming unemployed,she becomes depressed.Unable to pay her bills she losses her car. The disconnection between herself and her husband has a negative affect on her children who becomes involve in drugs. The plot of the story seems disjointed at times and the issue of religion does not seem well thought through.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)

Review by: Roberta Manco on Feb. 20, 2011 :
At first I thought Dirty Little Angel was a coming-of-age novel, but then I realized it's more like the story of Hailey's descent into hell. Hailey is trapped in a world I have no first-hand knowledge off, but still I can empathize with her, and feel the claustrophobia of an unavoidable destiny (for her, but also for the majority of this book's characters). Hailey is a likable character and her wrong choices do not succeed in making her unpleasant. She is only reacting to the rage she feels for not having what she should have, and deserves to have: love. She tries to free herself of this rage, unfortunately in the worst of ways. I loved this character and I loved the novel's language. They both made Dirty Little Angels almost perfect to me. I say "almost" because I was expecting something more from the ending. I'm not talking about the plot itself. I'm talking about the novel's message: it seems to me that something is lacking and that the novel's closure is not complete.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)

Review by: Amanda D. on Feb. 17, 2011 : (no rating)
I finished this book in an afternoon, and honestly didn't care for it at all. None of the characters felt fully developed; they all seemed like stock stereotypes. I didn't care about any of them -- even when Hailey, the narrator, attempts to commit suicide, I just couldn't stir up any feeling. Perhaps if the language had been more evocative, I would have cared more, but even in scenes that should be riveting -- a dog fight, a murder, group therapy in a mental hospital -- the prose was trite. In a scene in which Hailey learns of the death of an acquaintance, text reads: "One of the nurses pulled me aside and told me he'd passed away on Wednesday. I couldn't believe it. I'd just seen him a week or so ago...I was so mad at God for taking Mr. Guidry." Perhaps prose like this is why I felt absolutely nothing for the characters and for the rather plotless story.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: Kelly on Feb. 17, 2011 :
Although this story was a bit dark, I enjoyed reading it. I would most definitely like to see what else this author has to offer.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: Lilac Wolf on Feb. 17, 2011 :
Fair warning from the author that it is a dark story and yes it really is. Sometimes the writing is a bit stunted, the story jumps around a little and I get confused. But it really was a good story, fully worth my time in reading it.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Amy Siggelow on Feb. 16, 2011 :
I won this book as an ARC from Library Thing.

I really enjoyed this book. I was "warned" by the author that it is pretty dark, and it surely was, but it was so very good! It was a book that I didn't want to put down.

This story is about a 16 year old girl, her 19 year old brother and their parents. The mother had just had a miscarriage and has holed herself up in her room and isn't paying attention to either one of her kids, while the father, recently unemployed, drinks too much and is down at the local pool hall most of every day. This is a story set in New Orleans, a place I've never been. There are many references to different areas and/or street names. The 16 year old girl, Hailey, is in turmoil throughout the book, for many reasons that are explained while reading. A great story of family dynamics, mistrust and the importance of being supportive of family.

I very much recommend this book for anyone to read, as it has all the elements of a great storyline....adventure, mystery, betrayal, religion, love, etc. Great book Mr. Tusa!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Autumn Blues Reviews on Feb. 15, 2011 :
A look through a dirty window into the life of a family without morals. A poison so common in our current society.

Dirty Little Angels is narrated in the first person by Hailey a 16 year old seemingly typical teenager from a Southern town in New Orleans. Hailey has a good heart and is just beginning to step out and be part of the crowd. However this crowd consists of her promiscuous and plastic girlfriend Meridian, and her brothers friends. One of them a seedy twisted man named Moses. Moses is a nut case with off the wall religious beliefs who has delusions of opening up a drive through church in a run down bank. More than once Hailey tags along with her brother and Moses only to get entangled in a web of violence.

Hailey's dysfunctional family consists of a distant mother who is wrapped up in her own depressive state, while her father uses alcohol to drown out his responsibilities, unemployment and his distant wife. Hailey seems to look for love and attention in the wrong way and loses her virginity to her girlfriends loser boyfriend. She finds solace in two people a man who is dying and her diabetic aunt. Sadly I found this story very realistic. As so many parents are wrapped up in their own lives and fail to reach out to their children and teach them morals. I believe Tusa used this setting to bring to realization the fact that life is what you make of it and environment has more influence on your people lives than you think. The ending I found surreal however Hailey was protecting one of the most important people in her life, her brother. Which shows that love can be possible even in a dysfunctional family.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Shannon Pease on Feb. 15, 2011 :
bookshelves: ebook, librarything

status: Read from February 03 to 06, 2011
reviewed by shayrp

I am not the type of reader that needs a happy ending, so this story was perfect in that regard. Otherwise I am not sure what the plot was. I get the theme though; dysfunctional family leads to dysfunctional behavior. This felt crowded with misfortune,which made it dull just at the times when I thought it was going to get better.
A lot of parts were disturbing to read: the teen sex, and animal violence so I would caution people about that. There was a message under all of that; you just have to want to keep digging for it.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Majel Redick on Feb. 15, 2011 :
DIRTY LITTLE ANGELS by Christopher Tusa
If an examination question asked, "What if the theme of Dirty Little Angels, by Christopher Tusa, (a) a morality play; (b) a coming of age novel; (c) a study of the new South? The answer would be: all of the above.
Told from the point of view of Hailey, a sixteen year old girl and youngest child in a dysfunctional Southern family, the narrative slices some episodes from her life to develop each of these themes.
Mama's miscarriage opens the narrative and big brother Cyrus (age 20) explains to Little Sis, Hailey, that "it's like a ball of meat squirming in Mama's stomach." The reviewer begins to wonder if this is one of the title dirty little angels. There are references throughout the story, tombstone statuary, and Cyrus and Hailey themselves, that make one wonder just who the little angels are. The answer emerges: there are dirty little angels throughout this tale.

Hailey Trosclair is 16, smart, feisty, and steadfast. She loves her family and is loyal to Daddy, brother Cyrus, Mama, and school friend Meridian. Loyal except when she is pissed off, hurt, abandoned or betrayed. Mr. Tusa brings teenage angst to the forefront clearly and vividly. The reader suffers along with the 16-year old Haley and empathizes.

Yet as Hailey is revealed through the author's words, we begin to worry about her sanity: "cockroaches in my head"; "the world around me had become fuzzy and scattered"; "my thoughts were growing little feet and tiptoeing out of my head;" and later, "like my skull was cracked open and light was pouring from my head." His phrasing is skillful, and vibrant, almost skin tingling.

Cyrus is the really bad boy we love. He cares for his sister Hailey, tries to guide her down righteous paths, protect her from dangers, emotional hurts, even physical harm. The other side of Cyrus engages Hailey in his immoral and risky escapades. He takes it lightly when it involves drinking, smoking dope and attending little out-of-the way gatherings involving illegal and illicit activities. Cyrus has served time in prison, has a parole officer. Good boy/bad boy Cyrus tries to make amends with the world, tries to do loving acts for Mama, tries to deal with Daddy. Sometimes it just doesn't work. Is Cyrus a "good" law-abiding example? Definitely not. Does he scrupulously observe a strong personal moral code? He does.

Skillful phrasing captures language of a Southern subculture ands paint a canvas of beauty, humor and wretchedness:

"I stared out the car window, stars blinking through black walls of pine, the silver breeze crawling through my hair.

"He had a full head of black hair. It was so greasy it looked like someone had combed it with an eel."

"They got the souls of a shook chicken egg."

Hailey after watching, and then participating in, the beating of a child molester: "It was a power I'd never known before." "It was kind of exciting."

Her brother took part in the event: "Cyrus was hitting him so hard I thought the kid’s bright blue eyes were going to roll out of his head."

The story continually peels back layers and reveals a new facets of these people and their actions and personalities. Hailey navigates the landscape of this novel observing, learning, and not always succeeding. Then, the author covers this with a new layer of paint that turns the readers thoughts upside down.

It's not William Faulkner, Eudora Welty or Clyde Edgerton. But reader, make no mistake about it, this is the South. Like other great storytellers, Mr. Tusa shares his gift for introducing the world-at-large to the South. He has the ability to illustrate the idiosyncrasies of the individual, and the characters seem to cherish their own eccentricities. Here the reader develops a fondness for the matchless Southern personality. Here the author examines the age-old questions of teenagers and young adults, of old and new loyalties, what is right and wrong versus what is good and what is bad.

This novel is stark and gritty; mesmerizing storytelling. Chris Tusa is a voice to be listened to.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: missy lamont on Feb. 14, 2011 : (no rating)
thank you so much for the book i loved it its becoming ond of the best books i every read thanks
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)

Review by: Rebecca Soto on Feb. 11, 2011 : (no rating)
Dirty Little Angels.... I enjoyed this book. It is dark and twisty and should be for mature readers only in my opinion.

I am a little torn about the length. I enjoyed that it was a short quick read, but I also wish it was longer so it could answer some of my questions about how everyone ends up. So- I hate to be wishy washy but I can't decide if making it longer would be worth it.

The beginning was a little slow thus the 3.5 rating. Once he got rolling though I enjoyed his characters. I loved Hailey and pulled for her the entire time.

I loved how many things in this book were unexpected. There was a lot packed into the 157 pages and a couple of scenes could use a little more meat.

Overall I really did enjoy this book and have recommended it to my sister. Again it is a little dark and twisty and the ending was a surprise (which I personally enjoy) so be sure you are not feeling blue when you read it- or hey it might make you realize what is good in your life. But I digress. It was a good debut novel and I will be looking for more of Mr. Tusa's work in the future!
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: Suzanne Morris on Jan. 24, 2011 :
Mom has fallen into a deep depression. Dad is unemployed and makes little effort to find work. Big brother hangs with a spiritual leader who sometimes takes righteousness into his own hands. The BFF is fair-weather at best. How is a young teen girl to cope? Hailey, age 16, tries the best she can.

I don't really know what to say about this book. One big problem for me is the lack of a real ending. Nor was there a much point to the story - no theme that stood out (except poverty), no crisis to conquer, until near the end when the big brother, Cyrus, makes the mistake of going with Moses, the cultist, criminal spiritual advisor Cyrus seems to think knows all. When the kid they "correct" is found all beaten up Moses lets Cyrus take the fall - until Hailey takes down Moses.

The writing was good at times, even wonderful. I think it needs more editing and a better focus. Many sections seemed to ramble on and on without a reason. Filler would be an appropriate word for those sections. If the story was tightened and a conflict set up clearly early on, I think readers would be more receptive to the story. At many times I was lost to where I just put the book down. Had I not a review to do I doubt I would have finished the book. As it is, it took me much too long to finish. As a self-published book, it could be one of the better ones with a bit more effort.

NOTE: Member Giveaway

CORRECTION: This is not a self-published book. It is published by he University of West Alabama. My sincere apologies to the author.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: cindy vogel on Jan. 01, 2011 :
Received through LibraryThing giveaway. Thanks to the author for the opportunity to read it. Well rnough written but not my kind of book. Moses is a despicable character who hides his wickendness behind the cloak of a salvation message of sorts, proving anyone can call themselves Christian without a clue as to the true definition. I was pleased with the way the heroine decides to give up victim status in the end.
(reviewed 51 days after purchase)

Review by: Dick Rachey on Dec. 31, 2010 :
Dirty Little Angels was quite different from what I might normally read, but I was surprised by the fact that I couldn't stop reading. It was very well written from the view point of Hailey, the daughter and really explained how a disfunctional family struggled against many adversities. I was kind of disappointed when the book ended after Hailey shot Moses. I was really getting into about that time. I thought it was a very good book, but it could have been longer.
(reviewed 50 days after purchase)

Review by: Gina Schwartz on Dec. 22, 2010 :
Dirty Little Angels

Dirty Little Angels is a family drama which follows the life of Hailey Trosclair . Hailey's family has stumbled on hard times including a miscarriage and other financial situations which leave her mother depressed and Hailey and her brother struggling to find their own way.

My Take.

I was not sure how to approach this book and didn't much like it until I was about two thirds of the way through. Hailey is an unimpressive heroine most for most of the novel - she smokes and drinks - she goes off with her best friends boyfriend and she seems strangely entranced by Moses who to me seems like a totally unsavory character from the very beginning.

It is difficult not to include an spoilers in this review but I will say that Hailey's dramatic act in the middle of the novel really shakes up her parents and wakes them up. Not only that but it also changes the entire character of the novel. They declare their love for her and this seems to inspire her to be the heorine that she becomes by the end of the novel. She is truly the saviour for ther family - she saves herself her brother and untimately her whole family by her actions.

At the end of the novel she goes to Moses' house prepared to do whatever is necessary to save her brother but while she is there she decides that she does not want to be a victim and the simple decisions of pushing Moses away gives her a whole new confidence which allows her to really save her brother for good this time. She gives up her friend and is no longer a slave to being liked or being popular and in doing this she saves herself from the life she had before - sneaking around with other girls' boyfriends, frequenting slummy places and people. You get the sense by the end of the novel that everything is going to be great with her. She has shaken off the old and come of age.

The Cover

I read this book in Ebook form on my computer but I did peek at the cover on the smashwords site. I didn't like it.

My Rating

Out of a total of 5 Stars I give this book 3 and a quarter. I am determined to read it again just to make sure I did not miss anything.

Happy Reading.
(reviewed 34 days after purchase)

Review by: Sandy Delisle on Dec. 08, 2010 : (no rating)
This book was great. It definitely wasn't what I expected. I liked how real it was. You don't start many stories with something tragic, but for this book it really sets the tone and gives the reader a place to start from. It is a refreshing look at how a family deals with a tragedy, and the after effects of such an event. He does a great job, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to read a good story.
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)

Review by: nomi on Dec. 08, 2010 : (no rating)
While I felt that this book wasn't for me at the start I quickly changed my mind as the story progressed. I came to a point were I could understand the behavior of some of the characters although I didn't necessarily agree with it. I do think however that the depth of the characters could have been a bit deeper, I thought that the author had more to offer and I was a bit disappointed with the ending, I would like to know what happened to Hailey in the future.
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)

Review by: Tracey Thomson on Dec. 04, 2010 :
A story about an underprivileged 16-year old girl and the tragedy surrounding her family and friends. This book was an easy read. The character development was adequate at best. It was a story in which you wanted to pull for the heroine, but didn't know her well enough to really care. It rambled from one scene to another with not much holding the "meat" together. Drugs, murder, fighting, trading sex for "favors". I kept looking for some moral or for someone in this story to "rise above" their peers. Unfortunately, it was a book in which there were never any consequences for bad behavior. I would hope that the only people who read this are adults whom already have their set morals and ethics in place. Kind of an entertaining read, but don't expect anything "deep". It could have really been a fabulous story, but in 157 pages, it just couldn't happen. ( )
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: V M on Dec. 03, 2010 :
I was able to read Dirty Little Angels via a Library Thing giveaway. At first glance I though the book would be poorly written, dime a dozen story filled with clichés. But after the first few chapters, I was pleasantly surprised at seeing myself enjoying and getting into the story and the characters. I could not put it down once I was a quarter of the way through. This novel is definitely not for everyone with its brutally honest portrayal of inner city life in New Orleans. The characters took awhile to develop for me, but Chris Tusa handled his character development very well. And I still can’t believe that a grown man such as him could have a teenaged girl be a first person narrator and pull it off so well. Since I used to be a sixteen year old girl, I believe that he did an exceptional job with the character of Hailey. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dirty Little Angels, and I hope Mr. Tusa can deliver an even better work in the future.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Tara on Dec. 02, 2010 : (no rating)
I honestly started this book three times but was unable to really get into it. I believe though, that the book is well-written and would be enjoyed by individuals who like contemporary fiction about real issues. I won't rate this book, I think it is unfair to do so beings that I have not finished the book and I am aware that books get better the farther you read.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Lynn Christ on Dec. 02, 2010 :
I was able to read this book through a request at librarything.com (kind of like First Reads). I don't think I would have picked this book up on my own, but am glad I read it. It was a short book packed with lots of character, family, thoughts of growing up, religion, and justice; overall very thought provoking. I think this book would be a good book club read, but beware there are some graphic parts.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: BALLARD MATTINGLY on Dec. 01, 2010 :
Dirty Little Angels is a moving story following a teenage girl in Louisiana. From the start of the book until the end the author brings you through the story with the teenagers point of view and even her accent coming through the writing. Some parts of the story where treated a little to litely such as her loss of virginity and the betrayel of her best friend. Overall the story was good and caused me to continue reading. I believe the ending could have been postponed until a better conclusion was reached but I do give this book 4 stars.
(reviewed 14 days after purchase)

Review by: Pamela Cornes on Nov. 18, 2010 :
"Dirty Little Angels" by Chris Tusa was okay. The story is centered around Hailey, a sixteen-year old who is desperately trying to save her family from seperaration and divorce...she tries to keep them together the best that she can, no thanks to the activities of her mom and dad. However, as the story develops, this act proves more difficult especially considering Hailey and her brother, Cyrus, and their connection with Moses, a self-proclaimed preacher of a drive-thru church who believes that some people have to go through hell before they can be saved. The ending is unexpected, though, not surprising considering the events leading towards the end.
All in all, I really liked this book. I enjoyed the way Tusa developed this characters, right down to their mannerisms, and how he made them work together to help the story come alive. I just wish the plot would have been more developed towards the end.
I give it 4 stars.
(reviewed 36 days after purchase)

Review by: Kellie Seaman on Nov. 14, 2010 :
The author has a way with visual imagery. Every time I put the book down, I was drawn back to see what was going to happen next to Hailey, the main character of the story. As much as I wanted there to be a happy ending, or at least a moral lesson, much like life this story follows the way of human tragedy. It is not recommended for anything but a mature audience. I'm not sure what I would walk away from this story with, but if there were a sequel, I would definitely buy it. The story is fluid and unpredictable, much like life. The characters are real and not idealized by any stretch of the imagination. It gives you a glimpse into a culture that many are fortunate not to have to experience first hand. His writing style reminds me of Maya Angeleau's, gritty and unapologetic.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)

Review by: Ruth K on Nov. 10, 2010 :
This short novel is packed with interesting characters and a great big story. Hailey, Cyrus, and their parents struggle so individually that they almost lose the ability to struggle as a family unit. Hailey's strength seems remarkable for her 16 years but of course it is inevitable that she can't carry the weight of everyone's problems. When she finally accepts her vulnerability, her family has the opportunity to step up and step together. The story is tragic, brutally realistic, and strangely hopeful. I am a new Chris Tusa fan.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: Iris Verbaas on Nov. 05, 2010 :
(I receive a free digital copy of Dirty Little Angels from LibraryThing)I read Chris' book Dirty little Angels. I really enjoyed the book & was really lost in the story. Its a story where you can see yourself in and i like reading those books. Its easy to read and it keeps you guessing whats gonna happen next.
Its a sas story but its still great to read. Its worth buying it in the store!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: zeria rose on Nov. 04, 2010 : (no rating)
I quite enjoyed this book, it was dark and twisted but very interesting. It kind of reminded me of the bluest eye by Toni Morrison, as it told through Hailey who seems innocent compared to everything surrounding her. I thought it could have been developed more since its a very short book. I would look forward to reading Tusa's other works.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: d bettenson on Oct. 13, 2010 :
“Dirty Little Angels” is a good, short read, though it took me quite a few pages to really get into it. Chris Tusa does a great job creating low life characters, and I absolutely love old Verma, a skinny old Negro woman of the neighbourhood.

“Dirty Little Angels” tells the tale of a poverty stricken area near New Orleans, strife with drugs and violence. Chris Tusa relates a tale of the hard life - and one shouldn’t expect the fairy tale happy ending.

I greatly enjoyed this book, and will watch for future Chris Tusa books.

Member of Goodreads, Librarything, Smashwords and the Penguin bookclub. I received this ebook for review for free.
(reviewed 29 days after purchase)

Review by: 2goldenret on Oct. 13, 2010 :
I enjoyed this book also. It was well written and easy to read leaving you wanting to read more to find out what happens next with the characters. The story is a bit sad but also true to life of the unfortunate happenings of displaced families and lack of family values. I will be looking for the next book out! Thanks!
(reviewed 28 days after purchase)

Review by: Justin Ball on Oct. 05, 2010 :
This book in many ways is one of the best books I have read. The book is very brief with only 848 pages in iBook but was instantly drawn in to the story and read half of it in one sitting. As far as character development it was somewhat relatable to "let the right one in" as far as the (main)ish character is one that does terrible some would say evil things but gain the most sympathy because until others their situation is based on the situations that they are in. In this situation the main character is in a family with withdrawn mother after an event mentioned early in the book and then a not-good-for-anything father that would rather feed his alcoholic and gambling addictions than work at getting a new job. The one family member that she can hang out with is her violent brother with no direction in life. The main character is Hailey caught in between this.

Concluding Thoughts: This is one of the only books that wasn't predictable only until the last chapter and really was a page turned that I would highly recommend. My only qualm with this book is at parts of the book I felt that it needed more meat in the details however the twists and turns fully made up this. For being a first book this was great the author did a really good job. A must read for those that have the time
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Juli Dunn on Oct. 05, 2010 : (no rating)
This book quickly pulls you in. I am still working through it , but already find it to a an engaging story with all the elements that keep you turning pages and looking for snippets of time to sneak away and read a few more pages. I think it is also a great testament to the human spirit and of enduring when others would have given up. Nice job.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: merle ureshii on Sep. 25, 2010 :
I enjoyed reading this book, read it through in one night and was a little bit sad at the end. I would loved to know more, what will happen next???
Great story, great writing! I hope to read more some day!
(reviewed 11 days after purchase)

Review by: Deb on Sep. 10, 2010 :
I finally had a chance to read the book, but now I can't put it down. I'm almost finished so I hope nobody spoils the ending. I absolutely loved the book and can't wait to finish. It's one of those books that pulls you into the characters and you forget about everything else for awhile. Great job Chris and I can't wait until your next book comes around. Keep me in mind! Thanks for the chance to read this. I'll tell everyone they have to read this one, Dirty Little Angels.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: susan w on Sep. 02, 2010 : (no rating)
Great book Chris, Although it was a sad book as far as Haileys family situation, i enjoyed the characters. It was very insightful into lives in a poor town. I wanted the book to continue and i wanted to see Hailey come through all what she has to overcome.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Kathy Austin on Aug. 16, 2010 : (no rating)
I LOVED this book! Not only did I fall for and keep rooting for the characters...specially Hailey, I wanted their story to continue. I was not ready for it to end. Set in New Orleans...this "coming of age" story is full of drama, intrigue, mystery, death, drugs, sex and just about everything else there is in life. Sadness, love, anger and forgiveness. Although the characters live in a down-trodden part of town, although there isn't much to do to occupy them (hence the cause of SOME of the trouble they get into), they still HAVE lives (as some of us seem to forget when thinking of people in their situation). They do the best they can with what they have. Chris is able to portray a pretty valid comparison, although unstated...that their lives can closely parallel anyone else's life...no matter level of education, social status, bank balance, etc. This book is gripping and as others have said...a "new" To Kill A Mockingbird. It's THAT thought-provoking. You'll find yourself thinking about it days after your finished with it.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)

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