The Shoeshine Boy

The Shoeshine Boy

by "Melvin Sterne"

Many lives have been altered by “spiritual experiences.” Pablo, the shoeshine boy, has such an experience, one he assures the reader that they will not believe. And why should we? It’s a story so outlandish that Pablo scarce believes it himself.

The Shoeshine Boy is a story of individual redemption. Can Pablo, a five-year-old, illiterate orphan, survive on the streets of a hostile world? But even more, it is a novel of human redemption, contrasting the power of belief with the power of delusion, of truth with the lies we tell ourselves every day. This is a novel about faith.

More broadly, it is a tale of choices. We live in a world of dwindling resources, exploding population, and technological revolution that is threatening our existence. The question becomes not whether Pablo will survive, but whether you and I will survive—and if so, how? The values we affirm and the choices we make based on our values can seal our fate as a species.

Kurt Vonnegut once said that he wanted to stay as close to the edge as he could without going over. “Out on the edge,” he said, “you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” His words describe The Shoeshine Boy perfectly. It will take you to the edge.


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About the Author

Melvin Sterne

Melvin Sterne worked union construction for twenty years before returning to college to study creative writing, ultimately earning a Ph.D. from Florida State University. His first novel, Zara (Ink Brush Press), sold well, as did his short story collection, The Number You Have Reached (Lamar University Literary Press). For six years Sterne was the Senior Editor and Publisher of Carve Magazine. He currently leads the First-Year English Program at the Chinese University of Honk Kong (Shenzhen Campus), but spends all the time he can in Singapore. Just for the record, he grew up in El Paso but never shined shoes for a living.