Dyed Souls by Gary Santorella – Book Review

by Gary Santorella
Genres: Coming of Age, Fiction, Gritty Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback

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‘My mom leans back, smiles, and strokes my cheek. “That’s all right, Charlie. Never you mind. You just got soft living with your grandparents, is all. You forgot that most people don’t have it so easy—that you have to be tough to make it in this world.”’

Set in the 1980’s, Dyed Souls follows the life of 13-year-old Charlie; an intelligent, troubled teen, taken from his grandparents by his drug addicted mother, only to end up at Hawthorne Residential Treatment Village.

There he ponders Darwin, Socrates, and Plato, and unexpectedly falls in love with a girl named Margo. When she breaks his heart, Charlie runs away, beginning a new journey that will leave him shattered before he finally makes it to Virginia. Back with his grandparents, the return of his mother forces him to learn a bitter truth that changes his life forever.

Dyed Souls is a thought-provoking, gritty novel, that will appeal to fans of literary fiction and philosophical literature. A coming-of-age novel, it is suitable for both young adult and adult readers.

Dyed Souls was awarded Silver in the Young Adult Fiction Category of the 2018 Global Ebook Awards.


In his award winning, novel, Dyed Souls, author Gary Santorella has brought forth an incredible, thought provoking and heart wrenching coming of age story. Readers will be pulled into the dark, painful and unusual world and life of 13-year-old, Charlie, who is struggling to navigate his life, and way through the cruel hand that life has dealt him.

He lives with his loving grandparents, and has a special connection with his grandfather, who instills and teaches him critical thinking.  Charlie’s mother is addicted to drugs, disappears without a word, victimizes, and takes her life of pain out on Charlie. Then, Charlie is abruptly removed from his mother, and the security of his grandparent’s home, and forced to live in a group home for troubled teens. Beyond his control, Charlie is now living at a reform school, Hawthorne Residential Treatment Village. There they use, and administer, large doses of anti-psychotic drugs to numb and subdue the teens.

Charlie is now traumatized further, and must learn to survive on his own. He is a bookworm and loves to read philosophical books. He is constantly pondering and thinking about God. Is God real? Why would a loving God allow me to suffer so much? Charlie is smart and unlike the typical teen. He stays away from the other teens, keeping to himself with his books and inner thought life. There is one girl that Charlie likes, Margo. They become friends and Charlie falls in love with Margo. However, Margo, even though she does fall for Charlie too, ends up betraying him. Charlie, now 14-years-old is devastated, heartbroken and fed up with the school and his life there, and runs away from the treatment center.

At this point in this captivating and compelling story, I fully love and care about Charlie. I am completely emotionally invested in him, his life and the journey he has ahead of him. I am on the edge of my seat, turning the pages quickly to find out what will happen to Charlie now that he is free and out alone.

Dyed Souls is a story about, a rather odd, teenage boy who is trying hard to fit in, find himself and figure out the “why” in life. He struggles through friendships, love, lust, relationships and family.
This story is dark and realistic with surprising events and scenarios, and I think way more common in real life, than many might think.

Dyed Souls by Gary Santorella is a unique story, beautifully written, flows without a hitch and is paced well. Never a dull moment, an original storyline and plot, superb and fully developed characters and excellent descriptive writing brought this gritty story to vivid life. Chick Lit Café definitely recommends Dyed Souls by Gary Santorella to readers that enjoy deep, captivating and gritty stories that, strangely, resembles real life.

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