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The Perfume Burned His Eyes
BY Michael Imperioli

Akashic Books
April 3, 2018/ ISBN 9781617756207
Teen / Fiction / Coming of Age

Reviewed by Jen Oliver


The Perfume Burned His Eyes introduces readers to a 16-year old teenager named Matthew who moves from Jackson Heights, Queens, to Manhattan. Even though the move is relatively small in distance, it is large in community. Matthew has to adjust to new neighbors (Lou Reed and his transgendered girlfriend, Rachel), a new private school, and falling in love. As Matthew is adjusting to all of these new things, he also is struggling to deal with the losses of his father and grandfather.

As a fan of Michael Imperioli’s acting, I was looking forward to seeing what his writing would be like. The Perfume Burned His Eyes is different; not different bad and not different good. Each chapter bounces Matthew between his love affair with Veronica and his wacky relationship with his neighbor, Lou Reed. Readers get a sense of the teenage struggles that Matthew faces, but more on the extreme side. The setting difference of Jackson Heights and Manhattan is important to the story and is handled well. Sensitive readers should be aware that there is a lot of strong language and some graphic imagery which they might find offensive.

Fans of Michael Imperioli might appreciate The Perfume Burned His Eyes, but sensitive readers should stay away. It is a quick read. This reader was able to read it in a day. It is a different type of coming to age story.

Notes: graphic images and language

Reviewed 2018