Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review: "Jim the Boy" by Tony Earley

If I were to describe Jim the Boy, the first novel of Tony Earley, in just a few words, I think I would call it Edgar Sawtelle lite. It deals with similar settings, with both taking place in rural settings during America’s depression, with Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle taking place in Wisconsin and this taking place in the Carolinas. They also try to recreate and recapture the feeling of the novels of John Steinbeck but taking great care to infuse modern day feelings into their period pieces. The big difference between both books is that while The Story of Edgar Sawtelle has a sort of old world grandness about it that makes for a compelling and important read, Jim the Boy never really feels all that worth it most of the time. It has a few cool moments, but it is just too short and too quick of a read for me to feel all that nostalgic for a time I wasn’t alive. It has a very simple story: Jim is born a few days after his father dies in farming accident and is raised on a farm owned by his three married uncles and his widowed mother. It traces the experiences he has growing up, including the importance and difficulty of hard work, the grand event of going to school for the first time, and the heartbreaking loss of friendship to disease and poverty, which is brought to life in an intense scene which involves Ty Cobb supposedly being on a train. But all these events are too brief, and although I know there is a sequel to this, I never felt what I was reading had any kind of urgency. But beside that, it is a good book, and I look forward to reading the sequel in the near future
Rating: 4/5

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