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Custom Al Capone Does My Shirts Essay

Moose Flanagan is only 12 years old when the family moves to a new home. He has mixed reactions concerning his new home. He finds it fun living in San Francisco Bay, but the change of home is disturbing due to new neighbors. Moose’s family moves to Alcatraz Island, which was necessitated by his father’s new job as a prison guard and electrician.

Location of Moose’s new school is in the mainland, and this too does not work well for him. His new friends criticize him and think it is weird to live on Alcatraz. Furthermore, Moose cannot find time to play baseball after school, which his friends do not understand.

Moose does not involve himself in play and other activities because he has to head home to look after his older sister Natalie. His mother teaches music classes, leaving Moose with the sole responsibility of taking care of Natalie. The girl is suffering from a mental disorder. She has autism. Her condition is complicated and nobody is sure how to deal with it. To make matters worse, Natalie is denied admission to Esther P. Marinoff School. Her parents are disappointed with this as they are aware that Natalie’s education may now be jeopardized. Many people still advice the family to put Natalie in a special institution. Flanagan’s are not sure that the advice given by ‘experts’ is good. They opt to put Natalie in different therapy programs, most of which are experimental. These therapies are not effective as they do not give any results.

By spending most of the time with Natalie, Moose is able to understand his sister. He learns how to deal with her screaming and provides her with the things she needed, which include buttons and lemon cake. Since he best understands Natalie and what she needs, he constantly argues with his mother over the best way to handle her.

During their stay on Alcatraz Island, Moose and Natalie find a new kind of community, which is different from families in San Francisco. New acquaintances include Theresa, a bossy seven-year-old, and warden’s daughter Piper who was manipulative, kind of cute, but sneaky. Piper complicates Moose’s life even more. She lures him into her scheme, which ends up being a trap. The scheme is to make money through collecting their classmates’ laundry using the name of a famous convict, Al Capone. Moose has to play along Piper’s dangerous schemes to safeguard his dad’s employment. This is because his father’s boss is Piper’s father. Moose is also aware of Piper’s hatred towards Natalie.

With time, Moose starts enjoying life on Alcatraz. This motivats him to find ways to help his sister fit in well with other children. He goes ahead and makes friends at school and also schedules some time to play baseball. His closeness with his sister makes it possible for him to convince his mother about his ability to find a solution. After the family tried numerous times to register Natalie in Esther P. Marinoff School, it was Moose who came up with the solution. He secretly sort help from Al Capone through a letter. Warden’s daughter, Piper, is the one who helped slip the note into a letter destined for Al Capone. It took only few weeks for Natalie to get accepted to the school. She is scheduled to join the brand-new wing of the school that takes care of older autistic children. The family is delighted by the move.

Personal Thoughts about the Book

Al Capone Does my Shirts is a wonderfully told story. It is a swiftly paced tale. The relationship between Moose and his parents is complex and dynamic. The setting is factual as people lived on the Alcatraz Island. Sexual themes are raised in the book, when it talked about the rules meant to protect women and young girls from the convicts. The story is enticing and is still a real hit. The mature theme is best suited for older kids.

Literacy Criticism: Contemporary Fiction

  1. The content of the story is well delivered in a continuous prose. It captures reader's attention right from the start and holds it till the end of the story.
  2. The story describes social issues that most families face. It emphasizes unity that is important for any family and stresses the importance of education.
  3. The author respects intelligence of the reader. The reader may wonder why gangsters are seen as heroes. Readers can also appreciate how Moose stands out to express his opinion.
  4. Themes like sexuality are meant to evoke thinking of readers concerning the importance of being responsible adults.
  5. The basic language used by the author allows the reader to imagine story characters. The reader is thus eager to know what is about to happen next while reading the story.
  6. Despite disappointments the family faces due to difficulties with Natalie’s admission to school, there appears hope when Moose finally adapts to the new environment. The reader is thus encouraged to be hopeful when faced with challenging situations.
  7. The pursuit for a better life for Natalie shows that every child deserves education regardless of their condition. The parents struggle to ensure that every child gets educated, that is why Natalie’s situation gives them sleepless nights.
  8. Part of the dramatic backdrop of the story contains some references to imagined violence. This gives the reader a glimpse of how violence can be dangerous and why it should be avoided.
  9. Problems in the story relate to problems readers face during their young life. Readers can thus learn from Moose’s and Natalie’s experience to tackle their problems.
  10. The story is captivating with an enticing historical setting. It provides readers with joy being a thought-provoking story. 
Code: Sample20

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