The Gargoyle Hunters by John Freeman Gill

It’s 1974 in New York City and the city is falling apart. Really! There are pieces crumbling and falling off of buildings compelling young Griffin Watts, thirteen years old, to start wearing a batting helmet as he walks to and from school. Griffin and his family all lived together in a brownstone until his mom and dad separated. Now he lives with his mom, sister and a bunch of boarders, hard luck cases, that his mom seems to collect. Griffin misses his dad so finds him in his warehouse/loft in TriBeCa, some weird section of the city where the streets make no sense but people swear is coming back. There he learns about his dad’s love (read: obsession) with the architecture of the city, especially its gargoyles. Griffin is thrilled to help his dad and friends on their late night expeditions to save the city’s history before it is demolished even though he’s pretty sure it’s not all totally legal. It is exciting. 

Griffin learns a lot about the architecture of the city (which as readers we do too) but also a lot about life. He begins to understand the broken relationship between his parents and all the ways his parents aren’t so great at being parents. He also forms and loses friendships and grows into the man he will become. Over every aspect of his life there is always his relationship with his father.

Since the author is coming to talk about his book at the LVSC fundraiser in October I felt I should read it and took out the book and audiobook. I’m glad this event encouraged me to pick this one up because I really enjoyed it. I was skeptical about the audiobook because it is read by the author which can either be a good thing, or a disaster. In this case it was an extremely pleasant surprise. New York City comes to life through the author’s penned and voiced words. His characters are fully formed people ready to walk off the page and down the street. I felt like the author was Griffin telling me his story and I have a funny feeling the author wrote a lot of himself into young Griffin. 

Pick this one up and walk the city in the 70s; it was really fun remembering how awful it was compared to what, for example, Times Square is now!