Sarah Sammis's Reviews > Jim the Boy

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley
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's review
Dec 08, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: released, read-in-2008
Read in December, 2008

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley opens on Jim's tenth birthday. He's at a crossroads in his life, feeling the urge to take on greater responsibilities and the uncertainty that comes with growing up.

Jim is growing up during the Great Depression in Aliceville, North Carolina. Aliceville and he have odd histories. Aliceville is named for a little girl who died and Jim is named for a father who died before he was born.

Like my own family during the Depression, Jim and his mother live with her brothers. The three uncles take the role of his missing father. Though unconventional, they are a tightly knit family.

As Jim grows he begins to question his roots and wants to know more about his father's family, the one thing his mother and uncles seem determined to protect him from. So much of the novel focuses on Jim's internal tug of war between his current life on a small farm with a mother and three bachelor uncles and the life that might have been if his father had lived.

Jim the Boy is a novel that can be savored. It can be read slowly. The chapters work as vignettes. Everything that happens to Jim could just as easily be set against a modern setting.

This year Earley has a sequel to the novel that follows Jim as a seventeen year old. It's called The Blue Star and I'd like to read it sometime.
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