Al Capone Does My Shirts Review

February 22, 2011
By William Xu BRONZE, Edison, New Jersey
William Xu BRONZE, Edison, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

If you were forced to move to an island that was infested with criminals would you be happy? I certainly wouldn’t and neither is Matthew, the main character of the book when he is put in this situation. Filled with interesting surprises, Al Capone Does My Shirts entertains its reader fully. Matthew, a round character, comes to live at Alcatraz when his dad finds a job as a guard and electrician there. He feels nothing but misery when he goes there, but that quickly goes away as the year progresses. He has reasons though to for not liking Alcatraz in the beginning too, problems that would drive any sane person insane. At school and Alcatraz, he must deal with Piper and her crazy schemes. For example, she gets her friends from Alcatraz to advertise to the school that she can get their shirts laundered by the notorious gangster Al Capone. Then she somehow forces everyone in the seventh grade to take off one of their shirts or socks and charges them a nickel each. Though Matthew had almost nothing to do with it he gets into huge trouble with the warden of Alcatraz, who is also Piper’s father. Then comes his sister who has autism and is a screamer. Things start to get worse when she is not accepted into a school and Matthew is forced to baby sit his sister. Also he’s having trouble with a convict at the prison, who seems to have befriended his sister Natalie. She seems so happy with him, but Matthew is worried because he’s in prison. And to add to his already mile long list of pains, is when he finds out he can’t play baseball with his friend Scout because he has to baby sit his sister on Mondays. He loses his only friend that he made at school. He does in the end get an easier life. He becomes friends with Scout again and plays baseball with him every day during lunch. In the end, with the help of Al Capone, who had heart to help him, Natalie finally makes it and gets into Esther P. Marinoff.
Though colorful with many details, full of surprises, and excitement, holes can be found in the plot, especially when the book nears its ending. The resolution of the story makes no sense. How could the law breaking prisoner, Al Capone, have convinced the principle of Esther P. Marinoff, who rejected Natalie twice to admission have convinced him to accept her? The author does not leave enough context clues to help the reader understand what is going on. Overall, though, the book does exceedingly accomplish entertaining its readers and is very well written, even though it leaves you wondering what in the world is going on in the end.

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