This week takes us to North Carolina. Entertainment Weekly says – “A boy named Jim come of age during the depression in a secluded North Carolina hamlet where the state’s history looms large and maps of the Confederacy still hang in his classroom.”
Jim the Boy by Tony Earley is a sweet tale of a young man that begins on his 10th birthday and ends on his 11th. Jim Glass has a mother and three uncles that raise him in tiny Aliceville, North Carolina. Jim is an ordinary boy, obsessed with baseball, fascinated with the train that comes through the town, and palling around with his friend Penn. His father died just before he was born and he relies on his uncles for his manly needs and his mother for love and comfort.
It was very interesting to me how the location played almost a separate character. Earley ensured that the landscape was detailed and well described.
The closer they drew to the mountain, the more uneven the land became. White outcroppings of quartz began to spill from the red banks along the side of the road. The road pitched up and down over short, steep hills, on the sides of which clung upland farms. Corn and sweet potatoes and small, cash patches of tobacco and cotton grew in terraced fields that carefully followed the contours of the hills.
Jim is a character that is simple and sweet. He feels deeply and is not afraid to show his emotions. I particularly enjoyed the internal dialogue he had while trying to figure out what to say to a boy stricken with polio. The vivid descriptions and picture of a small, mostly idyllic, town made me enjoy the book more than I thought I would. This was a quick read and while I enjoyed it, I will not read the second in the series as it did not suck me in enough.
Favorite lines – Once Amos died, Jim’s father would become as ancient and faceless as a man in the Bible, a man walking away until he is finally impossible to see. Once Amos was gone, Jim would be alone in the world in a way he had never been alone before.
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