4 Stars - Strongly recommended
Sequel to "Jim the Boy"
Funny thing about me and reading, When books are part of a series, I have to read them one right after the other. I don't like to squeeze other books in between them, unless of course they are already 12 novels long and I've only just discovered them (then it becomes a bit like chocolate - tastes good for the first 3 or 4 pcs, then just gets to be sickening and depressing)... OR they are still being released, in which case, I have no choice but fill the time from one release date to the other with books from my to-be-read pile (Of which there are currently over 200!!)
This book came as a package deal along with "Jim the Boy" (see my review here) and "Beat the Reaper" (next up) from Regal Literary, and thank goodness, because it saved me the potentially life threatening trip out into the Snow Storm Of The Century this weekend to purchase it.
I have been flying through my to-be-read pile this week, and a very large part of that is due to the fact that the books I have received for review have been quite good, and seem to demand most of my free time.
For instance: I woke this morning, let the puppy out for his morning walk, and plopped my butt on the couch to start reading "The Blue Star" and squeeze in a few pages before the boys crawled out of bed looking for breakfast. Still set in North Carolina, I find Jim - all grown up in his senior year of high school - still acting like a silly boy and hanging on the front steps of the school with his buddies.
After breakfast, I slide back onto the couch to find that Jim is in love with a beautiful girl who lives up on the mountian. He slides his desk up against the back of her chair and secretly plays with her hair as it covers the pages of his textbook in history class. Poor Jim, though... it appears that the one he pines for belongs to another, who is currently on a boat in an ocean fighting in WWII. Ooohh rats, the boys want lunch now.
Once the boys' tummys are full again, it's back to the couch and the book to find out that Jim's Uncle Zeno had almost married the mother of the girl he is in love with. Not to mention that Jim himself appears to be in some sort of tangle with Norma, a girl he once dated, that he broke it off with, who still carries a torch for him. Damn, laundry is piling up. Let me get a load going.
Back to the couch (which now seems to have this funny butt-shaped indent in it) and Jim, who confesses his love to the girl he can't have, who warns him off but not before geting flirty and hiding in the fog on the mountian and allowing Jim to ask her some personal questions. After this, she ignores him for awhile and nearly breaks his heart by showing up at the school dance with another boy (NOT the boy she is supposedly dating who is still serving in the war)! Shoot, I suppose I should go take a shower, huh?
Finally out of my pajamas and on the home stretch, there is a body in a coffin that causes Jim alot of guilt, a fourteen year old girl that got knocked up by Jim's friend at the dance, a heartfelt conversation between Jim and the mother of his crush, and a signature on an enrollment form for the war.
It seems like it was only yesterday that I was reading about the little boy Jim and all the mischief and mayhem and mean thoughts...Oh wait, haha! That was only yesterday!
All kidding, and soap-opera drama, aside, Earley does a wonderful job helping Jim the Boy grow into Jim the Man. The progression is a painfully natural; the situations he faces and the choices he makes all help to take Jim along the path to manhood.
At one point, towards the end of the novel, Jim jokes to himself that he must be the worlds worst adult, giving you a pretty raw peek into the mind of this man who can't see how far he has come, and how much he has grown. Always wanting to do the right things, but not always capable of it. It's part of being human, part of growing up and learning to deal. It's just normal.
It was great to revisit little Jim, and I look forward to meeting him again, perhaps as an older, and wiser man in future novels, should Tony Earley so choose.