By: Joseph Lunievicz
About the book:
Cid Wymann, a scrappy kid fighting to survive a harsh upbringing in Queens, NY, is a almost a prisoner in his own home. His only escape is sneaking to Times Square to see Errol Flynn movies full of swordplay and duels. He s determined to become a great fencer, but after his family disintegrates, Cid spends five years at an orphanage until his injured war-veteran cousin Lefty arrives from England to claim him. Lefty teaches Cid about acting and stage combat, especially fencing, and introduces him to Nikolai Varvarinski, a brilliant drunken Russian fencing master who trains Cid. By 16, Cid learns to channel his aggression through the harsh discipline of the blade, eventually taking on enemies old and new as he perfects his skills. Evocative of The Book Thief with a dash of Gangs of New York, Open Wounds is the page-turning story of a lost boy s quest to become a man
Review by Kelsey G.
Open Wounds is an extremely dark tale placed in a remarkable historic setting. The 1930's Depression era was a difficult time and the cinema was a unique means of escape for struggling individuals, none more troubled than young Cid Wymann, the protagonist of Open Wounds. The story graphically reveals the physical and emotional trauma that Cid faces both at home and at the hands of cruel bullies. As he grows from a terrified boy into a determined young man, the art of swordplay gives him the self-esteem and sense of control he has always lacked in real life.
This is an edgy novel that I'm not sure is suited for young adults. It is violent and honest; Cid's beatings are recounted with brutal realism, and as a child Cid himself witnesses his grandmother's suicide. If you can look past the grit of this novel, there is an inspirational story of transcendence to be found, I'm just not sure it isn't lost in the blows.
Apart from content itself, Open Wounds is crafted with a masterful hand, attention to period-specific details abound, and the art of fencing itself is revealed through Cid's learning eyes. I give this book three stars because, while I did not necessarily enjoy the story myself, I can appreciate why many might.