Monday, October 18, 2010

The Accidental King of Clark Street

The Accidental King of Clark Street by Diane Dryden

Imagine Chicago in the 1960's, once bustling neighborhoods are now falling into disrepair, new immigrants are moving into the neighborhoods, the U.S. will pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Vietnam war is coming and President Kennedy has been shot.  Amongst the turmoil of the 1960's you have regular people trying to carry on their daily lives.

Meet Leon McKee.  He is a man in his 50's who has just lost his wife and becomes stuck in neutral.  He can't pay his bills, he can't bear to be home along with her memory, he is stagnated.  Thus Leon becomes a homeless man with a home he no longer wants to visit.  He takes a job as a night watchman at a laundry mat on Clark Street.

Leon meets Vivian, the manager of Band Box Cleaners and they form a friendship that transforms their lives as well as the neighborhood of Clark Street.

This book touches on the important issue of Homelessness in the 1960's as well as focusing on how a community can support and transform lives.  I really came away with a strong appreciation for community and how we each have a duty to help others if we can.  The characters were all simple regular people trying to live their lives the best way they knew how, struggling to do what they thought was best and trying to be happy. The characters could really be any one of us.

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