It is 1952, and in the opening pages of Little Gangster, Joey D'Angelo our young Sicilian protagonist and his friend, Johnny Mari, are called late at night to First Street park where their gangster employer, Pepi Savi, is in the middle of an argument with ather gangster, Nick Bonanti. Immediately after the two twelve year old boys arrive in the park, the confrontation becomes violent, and Joey is told to perform a task which becomes one of many challenges facing him throughout the vel and places him as an accomplice to a crime in danger of being arrested. Joey and Johnny have been running errands for Pepi and earning eugh money to gamble on their Saturday afteron stickball games. Joey has moral concern about this work until he is called to the office of Peter Capra, Director of the Boys' Club of New York, and is offered an opportunity for a scholarship to a New England prep school, but there is a catch: Joey must give up all ties to Pepi. Joey faces other challenges: he must leave his Lower East Side neighborhood, his family and friends, and his girl, Maria. Throughout the vel, he faces problems which force him to question his amoral behavior. Thus begins for him an understanding of what it means to be a responsible young man. Johnny advises Joey t to take the scholarship while his Jewish friend, Harold Tapper, thinks he is crazy if he does t if offered. Joey finally decides what to do, and in an exciting climax, he confronts Pepi with his decision. In this dramatic and exciting coming-of-age tale, Joey takes the first steps toward realizing the American dream, its pursuits, its challenges, struggles and sacrifices.