The Great Monroe High School Fire is a novel of the South Bronx in an era best remembered today for runaway crime, gangs and drugs when arson devastated huge swaths of the borough. It was also a time of rich creativity, the source of rap music and grafitti art that spread worldwide. The protagonist of the novel, Joey Sanchez, comes of age in this environment, and attends schools that are almost out of control, Junior High 22 near the Grand Concourse, and James Monroe High School in the Soundview area. By seventh grade, he and his friend Sapo deal with a hostile school system by playing truant and riding the subways, spray painting their tags on any available surface.
Joey's Italian mother dies while he is at Monroe, and he learns to live entirely on his own. The one thing that saves him is a hunger for books, and an eccentric but well-intentioned English teacher. This desire for learning denied to him in the schools also leads him to a friendship with an older girl, a student at Fordham University. As Joey and Sapo deal with the threats from the many gangs dominated their neighborhood, he finds himself entangled in a plot to burn down Monroe High School.
Based on actual events and people, the novel is available in kindle and paper formats.