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The good always die young. Ten-year-old Roy Brown hears this after his sixteen-year-old brother Billy, the Eagle’s star basketball player, is killed in a wreck before the annual rival game against the Tigers. Alone in the kitchen before dawn the morning of Billy’s funeral, Roy remembers that day.
Reviewed in Canada on October 22, 2013
The author takes you back to rural Alabama in the 1950s. It is a coming-of-age story set in the decade of Gunsmoke, Bugs Bunny, Patsy Cline and Elvis. A tale of two brothers. Billy is the teenage basketball star, and young Roy idolizes him. The story is not fast paced, but it immerses you in farm life of the South back in the day. You’ll get to know Dad and Mama, sisters Martha and Shirley, and Sam, the farm dog. It’s a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, one not perfect, but with all the normal stresses. I feel like I could draw that farmhouse from the author’s details. The highback oak chairs carved with leaves, the blue willow china. Although the novel only spans a few days, it’s not boring–there’s Chester, a boy not quite right, who chases the school bus on his bicycle. Dodo Bird, Billy’s friend, who brings Roy’s world crashing down. The school pictures that embarrass poor young Roy. The author has a simple writing style that brings to mind To Kill a Mockingbird. Northcutt Young’s punchy writing adds realism to this novel–and although it’s a tragic story, somehow you feel the family perseveres after all is sad and done. Boomers will reminisce.