Recently rated #1 on Amazon’s “Top Rated Memoir & Biographies of Criminals
“I thought it was normal.” These are the unbelievable words of Heather Abraham describing her childhood. I was lucky enough to have a chat with Heather a few weeks ago about her new book The Bookie’s Daughter, a project she put off for over thirteen years. She put it off first after being warned not to write it by threatening anonymous callers and a near miss with a speeding car, and then again after deciding to pursue her education.
Finally she was able to write the story of her family and their very public life of crime in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. The child of two incredibly miss matched parents, Heather’s father was known as ‘Big Al’ – a towering force and mathematical genius who would become Jeannette’s local bookie and notorious for making a deal with the Federal Government. Her mother Bonnie was a small, fiery and sometimes abusive alcoholic who married Big Al at the age of sixteen.
This well written book reads like A Girl Named Zippy on crack. Told from the view of a child, Heather’s dialogue is matter of fact, after all didn’t everyone’s family make nighttime runs for illegal goods? Heather’s days are spent keeping watch for cops as gambling went on in the family store, “writing numbers” and being caught up in the police raids that occurred in the family’s apartment on a regular basis. Her story is also threaded with all the normal things that children remember from childhood, the familiarity of a sibling, the memories that take place at the kitchen table, walks to and from school, and the attention a child craves from their mother and father. As the book progresses Heather unfolds the painful realization that her childhood was incredibly abnormal. Witness to her parents many explosive arguments, some of which involved shotguns or knives, and caught up in the illegal family business she realizes she wants out. Ironically – through the madness of her family drama, we are able to catch tiny glimpses of the love her parents had for each other as well as their children, albeit poorly manifested through action or words. All in all The Bookie’s Daughter is a fascinating autobiography that is both funny and terrifying at the at the time. Full of characters like Big John, Spitting Studda Bubba’s, and a masturbating monkey you will find yourself rooting hard for Heather and her family as they live out their days of crime in Pennsylvania, federal trial and all.
For more on The Bookie’s Daughter and it’s author Heather Abraham, please visit www.bookiesdaughter.com
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