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The Paul Street Boys by Ferenc Molnár
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The Paul Street Boys (1907)

by Ferenc Molnár

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4291135,586 (4.14)9
Recently added bynagygg, rena75, dyziunia, asnopki, dom61uk, Gezemice, PauloBR
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» See also 9 mentions

English (5)  Italian (4)  Hebrew (1)  Estonian (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 5 of 5
I try to be frugal with my 5-star ratings as not to cheapen them; I reserve them for the best of the best, for my favorite books of all time. The Paul Street Boys by Ferenc Molnar was an easy choice in this regard.

I remember reading this book at a friend's house a long time ago, perhaps 5-6 years past. My friend and I both loved the book and I remember crying wholeheartedly at the ending, which was the only part I could fully recall when I set about to rereading this marvelous novel a few days ago. I had been meaning to read it for quite some time, but I could never remember what the title was, and more particularly, the name of the street. By courtesy of my dear friend Uncle Google, as we call him in our family, I discovered the title and immediately downloaded an electronic copy of the book. So, with the backstory cleared up, I should be getting to the review itself.

The Paul Street Boys relates the story of a group of boys trying to protect their little plot of undeveloped land in the midst of Budapest from the redshirts, a group of older boys who want to use the land to play ball. The story can be read as a satire mocking European nationalism, as the boys use many nationalistic and military terms while playing their games, and are so infatuated with their "motherland" (they even call it that), that they are ready to take the direst of measures in order to protect it from their enemies. Well, in the end the boys' motherland betrays them, and it turns out the honorable, idealistic soldiers were just specks of dust in the wind with no real control over the fate of their "country". This realization is made all the more terrinble when keeping in mind the sacrifices made to save the little piece of land (won't spoil anything, but it is really tragic). The book definitely hit me to the core and was potent in its criticism of nationalism.

However that entire aspect of the story, so painfully obvious to me now, was completely lost on me the first time I read it. Reading the story in 5th grade, I only saw a tale of friendship, bravery, loyalty and courage that touched me immensely. And the great thing about this book is that it works so well on both levels. The story itself is so captivating, so wonderfully well-written, with such interesting characters, that it's entirely sarisfactory without the allegorical aspect. The two overlapping levels of meaning, however, make it a joy to read for both children and adults, lend it more complexity, and make for a richer reading experience.

The Boys had a great cast of characters, who were surprisingly complex for a children's book. I loved how Feri Ach and his gang weren't demonized: they were decent enough, just as our boys were far from perfect. I also really love the timelessness of this novel. I believe it was written in 1907 or thereabout, but it's aged extremely well and doesn't feel outdated despite the horse-drawn carriages that ride around Budapest or the old-fashioned ink pots that are always getting spilled in someone's pocket. The language is descriptive without being flowery or redundant; the writer knows which words to use and is able to create atmosphere by saying very little. And the ending is heart-rendingly perfect!

To wrap it all up, I can simply say: "Read this book!" It's a children's classic for a reason (although it's probably more of a YA novel, really). It's not at all dumbed-down like many in the genre, and it can be a true pleasure for any reader. After all, it's universality that makes a classic, and The Paul Street Boys definitely has that. ( )
  bulgarianrose | Mar 14, 2018 |
An excellent book for young people ( )
  darkchocolate | Apr 4, 2012 |
I've read it such a long time ago, but I remember that I loved it :) ( )
1 vote Princesca | Oct 12, 2009 |
A beautiful book about friendship. ( )
1 vote Niecierpek | Jan 7, 2007 |
That's a very good book not only for children. In that book you can read about a lot of children, whose want a place for playing, they called it "grund". Read it, you will enjoy that. ( )
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ferenc Molnárprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mainenti, TommasoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Exactly at a quarter to one, after repeated futile experiments, the tense anticipation was rewarded.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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