Andy's Reviews > When the Whistle Blows

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton
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's review
Jan 20, 11

bookshelves: 2-star
Read in January, 2011

Slayton conveys the bittersweet passage of time in this debut historical fiction novel. Each chapter represents a different year between 1943 and 1949, and tells the short story of a day in the life of Jimmy Cannon. Jimmy grows up in small town Rowlesburg, West Virginia, the son of a railroad man. Jimmy struggles to understand his strict and mysterious father, at the same time his father, William Patrick, grapples with his own issues including failing health and the death of the steam engine. Each year, Jimmy is caught up in an adventure, whether playing a Halloween prank on his older brother, helping his high school win a football championship, or fighting to keep school closed on the first day of hunting season. While innovative in format, the gaps between events lead to a disjointed and slow start. The mystery of the Society, a secret group his father belongs to provides a common thread throughout the years. In the end, at his father’s funeral, Jimmy is indoctrinated into this brotherhood of Irish men whose purpose is to help one another in life.

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