Kicking The Sky

Paperback | June 3, 2014

byAnthony De Sa

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Now available in paperback--Anthony De Sa's novel of rare evocative power that captures the space between innocence and knowing--for a city, for a community and most especially for a trio of unforgettable boys.
     On a steamy summer day in 1977, Emanuel Jaques was shining shoes in downtown Toronto. Surrounded by the strip clubs, bars and body rub parlors of Yonge Street, Emanuel was lured away from his friends by a man who promised some easy money. Four days later the boy's body was discovered. He had been brutally raped and murdered, and Toronto the Good would never be the same. The murder of the Shoeshine Boy had particularly tragic resonance for the city's Portuguese community. The loss of one of their own symbolized for many how far they were from realizing their immigrant dreams.
     Kicking the Sky is told from the perspective of one of these children, Antonio Rebelo, a character first introduced in Barnacle Love. Twelve-year-old Antonio prizes his life of freedom and adventure. He and his best friends, Manny and Ricky, spend their days on their bikes exploring the labyrinth of laneways that link their Portuguese neighborhood to the rest of the city. But as the details of Emanuel's death expose Toronto's seedier underbelly, the boys are pulled into an adult world of danger and cruelty, secrets and lies much closer to home.
     Kicking the Sky is a novel driven by dramatic events, taking hold of readers from its opening pages, intensifying its force towards an ending of huge emotional impact.

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From the Publisher

Now available in paperback--Anthony De Sa's novel of rare evocative power that captures the space between innocence and knowing--for a city, for a community and most especially for a trio of unforgettable boys.      On a steamy summer day in 1977, Emanuel Jaques was shining shoes in downtown Toronto. Surrounded by the strip clubs, bars...

ANTHONY DE SA grew up in Toronto's Portuguese community. His short fiction has been published in several North American literary magazines. He attended the Humber School for Writers and now heads the English department and directs the creative writing program at a high school for the arts. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three so...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.01 × 5.16 × 0.9 inPublished:June 3, 2014Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385664397

ISBN - 13:9780385664394

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Bookclub Guide

1. The murder of Emanuel Jaques was a pivotal¾and symbolic¾moment in Toronto’s history, and in this novel the crime was perceived as a betrayal for the Portuguese community. What does Jaques’ murder symbolize for the young blood brothers, Antonio, Manny and Ricky?2. While De Sa’s narrative doesn’t go into detail about Jaques’ brutal murder, the pig slaughter becomes a graphic stand-in. What do you draw from this parallel?3. Throughout the novel De Sa treats Toronto as both setting and character: a city trying to sort out its own identity in the face of tragedy. What do you like most about his vivid portrayal of a city in transition? Discuss his depiction of the Portuguese community and the values of the old country morphing into the values in a new country.4. In what ways does De Sa address the implications of the murder on Toronto’s gay community and sex trade workers? How does he approach some citizens’ perception of homosexuality vs. pedophilia?5. How does De Sa use the idea of secrets and sense of complacency throughout the narrative and to what end?6. At one point on Antonio states “… it seemed like the person I was now was not the person I would’ve been if Emanuel Jaques had not been murdered, if James hadn’t dropped into our world out of nowhere. I’d never have the chance to be that boy again.” Can you think of a significant occurrence that changed the course of your own life?7. What do you think of James and why do you think he befriends Antonio, Manny and Ricky? What are his true motivations behind the friendship? Was Anontio drawn to James as a pseudo father figure? Why does James take responsibility for Agnes?8. We see Antonio struggle through a sort of sexual awakening over the course of the novel: he spies on the pretty girl next door and is uncontrollably aroused by James. And his true feelings remain unresolved at the end. Discuss the emotional complexity of his character.9. Being "there for each other" is an underlying theme and there is an undeniable sense of tenderness to the story, despite its darkness. James is there for the boys, Edite is there for Antonio, Dr. Patterson is there for Georgina . . . consider the complexities of these and other relationships and how they play off of each other.10. Antonio isn’t pleased about being forced to play the role of miracle boy, but he understands how important it is to his family and the community. That being said, do you think he believes his vision was indeed miraculous?11. A lot happens in the final chapter, what do you make of it? What do you think is next for Antonio?12. This sprawling bildungsroman and its intricate, detailed and rich cast of characters evolved from a short story from De Sa’s previous collection, Barnacle Love. Are there any characters you wish you learned more about? If it were up to you, who would his next book be based on?

Editorial Reviews

   • "Kicking the Sky is a rich and compulsively readable addition to the fiction of [Toronto], a novel that, like most of the good ones, is funny, heart-breaking and humane." --Toronto Star    • "De Sa has given us a beguiling coming-of-age story--harked back to an event that shocked the country and had massive repercussions--and at the same time managed to beautifully capture a community and an era." --The Globe and Mail