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Fiction Historical

Kicking the Sky

by (author) Anthony De Sa

Doubleday Canada
Initial publish date
Jun 2014
Historical, City Life, Cultural Heritage
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2014
    List Price

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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.

About the author

Anthony De Sa, author of the story collection Barnacle Love, grew up in Toronto’s Portuguese community. He graduated from University of Toronto, did his postgraduate work at Queen’s University, and attended the Humber School for Writers and Ryerson University. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three boys. This is his first novel. His website is

Anthony De Sa's profile page

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

User Reviews

raw and enlightening

I received a copy of Anthony De Sa's fictional novel "Kicking The Sky" compliments of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. The story is based on the true life tragedy of 12 year old Emanuel Jacques who was murdered in 1977 in Toronto. Although I had not previously been aware of the events that are portrayed in the novel, I was pulled by the author's writings to educate myself further. The story quickly caused me to be saddened by the loss of childhood innocence and safety within the greater community in it's aftermath. The author shares his story through the eyes of Antonio, a pre-adolescent boy living within the Azorean/Portuguese community in Toronto at the time of Emanuel Jacques murder. Antonio begins to understand that the adults in his life have been trying to keep him protected from the dark and often cruel realities of their existence. Antonio and his friends Manny and Ricky, struggle to mature into young men while they remain young boys at heart. They find themselves drawn to James, a young man who is new to their neighborhood and holds his own dark secrets. Antonio fears that more tragedy will unfold and remains cautious and on high alert with every action he takes. The author shares the dynamics present within their Portuguese community, their faith, their beliefs and struggles as immigrants in the big "City". Antonio embarks on his search for truth and meaning, despite his self-awareness that he may not want to face what he discovers. I enjoyed De Sa's writing, it was real, raw and enlightening. This story is the type that stays with you long after you have finished reading. I was taken aback. There are many references to abuse, sex and drug use within the novel so I would only recommend to a mature reading audience

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