by Tony Earley
This is a really quiet book. Dull, even. I picked it up secondhand somewhere, because the comparisons caught my eye- blurbs in the first pages compared it to The Yearling and To Kill a Mockingbird. Um, no. It\’s not anywhere close to those. In my mind it felt similar to The Red Pony, but flat. And no pony, of course. Well- Jim the Boy is about a farm kid in North Carolina. It\’s got the homey small town feeling, but although there are hints that the story is set in the Great Depression, there\’s not much sense of hardship. The boy\’s father died just before he was born and he grows up among his uncles. At the end of the book finally travels up the mountain to meet his father\’s folks. In between he helps in the fields, watches the train go through town, sees electricity arrive, adjusts to a new and larger school, makes friends out of a rival, etc. Probably the biggest events in the book were things to do with the train, baseball games between the kids, and when his friend fell ill with polio. All rather downplayed. Stories Jim is told of the town\’s history and his family\’s past were more interesting than anything which happened to Jim himself. I did like the writing in many parts, the word crafting was often picturesque, but the characters just didn\’t come alive for me. In the end I realized that although there is a sequel I have no desire to look for it.
Rating: 2/5 239 pages, 200