Friday, January 25, 2013

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley


I first heard about Jim the Boy in Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Woman’s Heart.  Her Honey for a Child’s Heart is popular in homeschooling circles, but this “sequel” is full of suggestions that will encourage and build up women readers. The subtitle, Growing Your World through Reading Great Books, sounded so much like the theme of my blog that I could not resist acquiring this book.  I have not loved all the titles Hunt recommended, but she has introduced me to many fine authors that I would otherwise have ignored.  But wait, that’s not the book I’m reviewing...

Jim the Boy is a gentle, well-written story of a boy growing up in North Carolina during the Great Depression.  Although it is not an action/adventure story, it’s an engaging read.  Earley treats the subjects of family, friendship and loss with a deft touch. Some examples of his good writing:

Jim’s heart rose up briefly, like a scrap of paper on a breath of wind, and then quickly settled back to the ground.  His love for his mother was tethered by a sympathy Jim felt knotted in the dark of his stomach.  The death of Jim’s father had broken something inside her that had not healed.  She pulled her grief behind her like a plow.  The uncles, the women of the church, the people of the town, had long since given up on trying to talk her into leaving the plow where it lay.  Instead they grew used to stepping over, or walking inside, the deep furrows she left in her wake. (p. 8)

Jim stepped close to Mr. Carson without realizing it.  He had heard every story his mother and uncles had to tell about his father so many times that over the years his father had become less vivid.  It was as if each story was a favorite shirt that had been worn and washed and hung in the sun so often that its fabric, while soft and smooth and comfortable, was faded to where its color was only a shadow of what it once had been.  But because Mr. Carson knew stories that Jim hadn’t heard, Jim’s father suddenly seemed close by, the same way he did sometimes, as if he had left the room moments before Jim got there. (p. 104)

Very satisfying.

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