Al Capone Does My Shirts is a book set in 1935, when Alcatraz was a functional prison. The 1930s were a simpler time, before netbooks and blackberries, before tv, when kids had to find other ways to stay entertained, like going outside and playing america’s favorite pasttime, baseball.
This story is about a teenage boy named Matt, nicknamed Moose, who in most ways is a typical boy. What’s not typical is that his older sister is severely autistic.
Moose sacrifices a lot for his sister, including at one point, his weekly baseball game after school. For a 13 year old boy this is huge. He also has to move with his family to Alcatraz Island, where his dad gets a job as a prison guard, so that Moose’s sister Natalie can go to a special school for autism in San Francisco.
Even though this was a lighthearted book, Natalie’s issues were very serious. The love Moose shows for his sister is moving, and the way the kids at Alcatraz rally around her, and become the first friends she’s ever had is inspiring.
Even though the story is fictional, it is true that kids lived on Alcatraz, a fact that surprised me. I liked all of the trueful facts sprinkled into this fiction.