A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle | More2Read Reviews

A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle

Goodfellas meets Thelma and Louise when an unlikely trio of women in New York find themselves banding together to escape the clutches of violent figures from their pasts.

After Brooklyn mob widow Rena Ruggiero hits her eighty-year-old neighbor Enzio in the head with an ashtray when he makes an unwanted move on her, she embarks on a bizarre adventure. Taking off in Enzio’s ’62 Impala, she retreats to the Bronx home of her estranged daughter, Adrienne, and her granddaughter, Lucia, only to be turned away by Adrienne at the door. Their neighbor, Lacey “Wolfie” Wolfstein, a one-time Golden Age porn star and retired Florida Suncoast grifter, takes Rena in and befriends her.

When Lucia discovers that Adrienne is planning to hit the road with her ex-boyfriend Richie, she figures Rena’s her only way out of a life on the run with a mother she can’t stand. But Richie has massacred a few members of the Brancaccio crime family for a big payday, and he drags even more trouble into the mix in the form of an unhinged enforcer named Crea. The stage is set for an explosion that will propel Rena, Wolfie, and Lucia down a strange path, each woman running from something and unsure what comes next.

A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself is a screwball noir about finding friendship and family where you least expect it, in which William Boyle again draws readers into the familiar—and sometimes frightening—world in the shadows at the edges of New York’s neighborhoods.




“A knockout combination of in-depth character work, Brooklyn atmosphere, and straight-up gritty noir. The devotion Boyle demonstrates for character, story and place is perhaps the one unadulterated emotion on display in a story imbued with ambiguous morality and loyalty.”
Shelf Awareness (starred) [praise for William Boyle]

“A beautifully nuanced novel that has an unhurried but compelling narrative drive, a central character you are totally invested in, and a locale that does indeed function as a major character, interacting with and psychically affecting each and every person in the book.”
Criminal Element [praise for William Boyle]

“Boyle launched his gritty vision about this section of Brooklyn, where neighbors make their own small town, in his debut, Gravesend. The Lonely Witness offers an excellent sequel with a superb plot, matched by its realistically shaped characters.”
Oline Cogdill, The Associated Press [praise for William Boyle]

“An adrenaline-charged debut in the Elmore Leonard vein. Bristling with energy, Gravesend marks Boyle out as a new name to watch.”
The Guardian (UK) [praise for William Boyle]

“A brilliant and nasty piece of joyful ambiguity that I Ioved deeply. What a marvelous and unexpected bunch of female characters, in particular. With this one, William Boyle vaults into the big time, or he damn sure should.”
Joe Lansdale, author of the Hap & Leonard series

“One thing to appreciate about William Boyle’s process is that, not unlike the late, great Charles Willeford, he takes his time, he doesn’t rush the reader. This is a significant trait, more important than it sounds, the method of a confident writer. He builds his characters patiently, allowing them to adjust to one another, not merely throw lines to titillate the reader. In A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself, Wolfie Wolfstein is as comfortably intact a creature as any crime writer of recent vintage has put together. I gleefully anticipate the coming of a movie or better yet a TV series in her name.”
Barry Gifford, author of ‘Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels’ and ‘The Cuban Club’

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 29 September 2018