Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “I Am One of You Forever” as Want to Read:
I Am One of You Forever
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

I Am One of You Forever

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,312 ratings  ·  135 reviews
Wonderfully funny and also deeply touching, I Am One of You Forever is the story of a young boy's coming of age. Set in the hills and hollows of western North Carolina in the years around World War II, it tells of ten-year-old Jess and his family -- father, mother, grandmother, foster brother, and an odd assortment of other relatives -- who usher Jess into the adult world, ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published July 1st 1987 by LSU Press (first published 1985)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about I Am One of You Forever, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ethan M.
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Joe It's a wonderful book for group discussion because it mixes humor with pathos and lots of different forms such as tall tale, myth, and Southern realis…moreIt's a wonderful book for group discussion because it mixes humor with pathos and lots of different forms such as tall tale, myth, and Southern realism.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,312 ratings  ·  135 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of I Am One of You Forever
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
To go fishing with your father: that is an ancient and elemental proposition, and it is not as overwhelming as sex or death or the secret lives of animals, still there are legendary shadows about it entrancing to a boy twelve years old.

This is a simple, lovely, elegiac novel of a young boy's life on a North Carolina farm during the forties. The story is woven as a series of events and anecdotes. Visiting relatives take on almost mythological proportions as tellers of tall tales, sprouters of my
Diane Barnes
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was under the impression that this was a novel, but it's actually a book of short stories. Some of them are tall tales, there's an element of magical realism in a lot of them, but the same cast of characters are in each story, with a revolving cast of visiting aunts and uncles, each more eccentric than the last. The writing is spectacular, the dialogue is perfect, with lots of humor and a little bit of sadness. ...more
Anson Mount
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The perfect rendering of a Southern childhood. I'm buying this book for people constantly ...more
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fred Chappell is one of my favorite Appalachian writers--maybe one of the most enjoyable writers I've read in general. This book (published in 1985) is the first of what some call the "Kirkman Tetralogy"--four books narrated by Jess Kirkman. Jess would seem to be a thinly veiled autobiographical representation of Chappell. In this book, we visit his memories of preteen years growing up in North Carolina in the 1940s. We come to know the Kirkman/Sorrels family, particularly Jess's father Joe Robe ...more
Julie Morrow
Jul 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, delightful
Fred Chappell tells a tale of a young boy living in a mountain town of North Carolina around the time of World War II. Jess is no older than a third grader, and as most young boys do, he admires his farmer dad and the family hand, Johnson Gibbs, a young man who was pseudo-adopted by the family via employment as a helper on the farm. Johnson and dad are mischievous, and Jess yearns to partake in the mischief, though oftentimes, he is a mere bystander or the object of the tricks. In this novel, yo ...more
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The bright happy days darted past us like minnows."
Jess Kirkman, is a ten year old boy, growing up on a "scratch-ankle mountain farm", in western North Carolina. It is the early years of World War II. He lives with his parents, grandmother and an, older foster brother, he idolizes. Revolving through this wonderful coming of age novel, are a cast of visiting uncles and aunts, each more colorful and eccentric than the next, keeping Jess wide-eyed and awestruck.
The prose is gorgeous; poetic, touch
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For some reason, I've never been a big fan of short-story collections. It may be that they often do not give me time to identify with a character before the tale ends. This charming collection, however, centers around one family and their eccentric queue of relatives who come to stay with them.

The poet laureate of North Carolina wrote this book, and it amazed me that his wording and phrases were so reachable. A fairly shallow reader, poetry itself usually has meanings Im not deep enough to plum
JG (Introverted Reader)
Jess, his mom, dad, grandmother and farmhand/adoptive brother, Johnson, live a quiet life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. They farm, visit with relatives, play some baseball, and get up to a whole lot of no good, as my grandmother would say. Jess's dad is a mischief-maker. He just can't help it. Johnson and Jess adore him and follow his lead in everything. Whether it's Halloween tricks or trying to find out exactly how long Uncle Gurton's beard really is, they are always up to som ...more
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
How do I explain a book like, "I Am One of You Forever"? It was deeply satisfying - the luminous prose, the tying up of loose ends...just tight enough...the mix of strange and commonplace. There are few books that cause me to make audible sounds when I read them (unless I'm reading aloud of course). This book made me laugh outloud as well as gasp at the pure genius of how Chappell strings words together. His writing is filled with unique similes and metaphors, creating clear pictures for my mind ...more
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nc-author, favorites
This has been in and out of my "to read" pile for close to 15 years. I am so glad it made it to the top of pile when I needed lots of laughs. Another title might be "Men (and the Boys Who Love Them) Behaving Badly in a Kinder, Gentler Time." Pick this one up when you need to be reminded of one universal truth--families, whether they have all the advantages or not, are only as strong as the love, patience, and acceptance they give each other. ...more
Mariam Al-Naqr
Dec 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Read an Arabic translation by Nehad Seleha
نهاد صليحة

The book is not an ordinary adventure book. It is very funny but so touching too. The of integration of magical realism into the book is done very beautifully. There is a 4-page chapter called البرقية The Telegram ... it is one of the best things I've read EVER.
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
Sarah Addison Allen's named it as one of her favorite magical realism books. ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My all-time favorite book. It is a masterpiece of Appalachian story-telling, seamlessly blending the fantastic with harsher realities. I have never wanted so much to read a book aloud, as it needs a mountain twang to be heard properly. Amazing imagery, vivid characters (real people? who can say?). A book with great heart.
Richard Wright
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
It has been a while since reading but remember just loving every part of this book.
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! It's a quick read with stories that you're sure did not happen but wish were true! ...more
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I Am One of You Forever, Fred Chappell. Rewarding surprises in tone, moving from comic, to fantastical, to tall-tale, to tragic. Set before and during World War II, the novel follows a son—the narrator—his father, and a young male orphan the grandmother connives to adopt, so he can help work the farm. Reading what I just wrote reminded me how much like Huckleberry Finn this novel is in its overall narration. Chappell’s language is divine: it too tumbles from the best and most primitive country m ...more
˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜
This is really more of a 3-1/2 star. But since I can't half it, I'll move it up rather than down. I think it deserves more than less.

"The bright happy days darted past us like minnows."
Jess, the son of a North Carolina farmer living in the mountains during World War II, tells the stories of a boy growing up in a rural setting. He uses short stories to tell about growing up with his father, grandmother, mother, Johnson Gibbs (an older boy who comes to live with them that Jess idolizes), and the
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small book of mostly short stories involving members of a family living in western North Carolina. They're charming, funny, sad, fanciful, and weird. I enjoyed them, but am not a short story fan for the most part. I like to get really involved in my books and short stories don't do it for me. However, I liked the writing style and plan to read another book by this author - a novel this time. ...more
Tiffany Speed
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
As a devout lover of all Applachain writing, I knew I would love this book, but was so deeply disappointed. The entire novel was very choppy, often times leaving me to believe this would have faired better as a complilation of short stories. I even wanted to throw in the towel (which I have only done twice) and move on to another more interesting read, but I forced myself to finish it. The later chapters were scarely better than the beginning and the conclusion did tie in slightly, but ever so. ...more
Mary Blocksma
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I got a real Christmas present with this book, which I recently bought at a thrift store for a quarter. Fred Chappell is a gift. I knew from page 1 that I was going to love it and I did, every single page. It's kind of a coming of age story on a North Carolina farm during World War II, but the characters are the genius of it, most of them eccentric relatives from the boy's mother's family who come to visit. I immediately ordered more books by Fred Chappell, who is also known as an award-win ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This was enjoyable, albeit a bit self-conscious as a novel of the Storytelling in the American South. Still, Chappell’s often poetic language is enjoyable, and the occasional drifts into the supernatural are often quite effective.
Mar 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Favorite Quotes

The tear on my mother’s cheek got larger and larger. It detached from her face and became a shiny globe, widening outward like an inflating balloon. At first the tear floated in the air between them, but as it expanded it took my mother and father into itself. I saw them suspended, separate but beginning to slowly drift towards one another. Then my mother looked past my father’s shoulder, looked through the bright skin of the tear, at me. The tear enlarged until at last, it took m
Sep 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2008
Funny book, and the blurb on the back is accurate when Fred Chappell is compared to Eudora Welty. They are certainly similar in their styles. However, I believe Welty is the stronger writer, and if one is looking for Southern/country comedic writing, I would recommend both writers, though I would personally lean toward Welty over Chappell.

I thought the first half of the book (prior to The Telegram) was better than the second half. I don't know why that was...perhaps I was just getting tired of
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This story is told from the perspective of a young boy, or sometimes from the perspective of a grown man reflecting upon his childhood. The story line is rather time fluid, and episodic, which might seems difficult at times, but press through and it's worth it. I have enjoyed this book for its (almost) magical realism, and fantastic imagery, and the quirkiness of the characters. At points, I literally laughed out loud.
The only qualm I have with this book is that Chappell doesn't expand the cha
Apr 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Heh. This is on my top ten of alllll time. Fred's one of my favorite writers. He's from NC, so he's most certainly a southern writer. More specifically, he's from the mountians of Applachia, and entirely distinct and interesting culture if you've never ventured to that part of the country. This book is told through the POV of Jess Kirkman, a young boy growin gup on a farm in the NC mountains and a thinly veiled depiction of the author's early life. The writing is rich, evocative and poetic. A se ...more
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The story of Jess, a young boy growing up in North Carolina and all the bright, crazy, and unusual characters that make up his family! There's Uncle Luden, who glides into town and receives calls around the clock from "those loose women", and Uncle Gurton, who has never shaved his beard! He keeps it tucked into his bib overalls and Jess and his Dad tranquilize him so they can sneak up at night to see the actual length! Uncle Runkin brought his own self made coffin along with him to sleep in. A d ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Chappell's prose is like poetry - not surprising, given that he's a poet. This is the first in a series of 4 books about Jesse Kirkman, focusing on his marvelous, quirky, fun-loving dad and their special relationship. This is the BEST of the 4 books - uproariously funny, touching, sweet, beautifully written. ...more
Nov 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fabulous, memoir, novel
Love Fred Chappell and this was my first book of huis i had read. It's sort of like first love, it always has something special about it. Actually my first Love doesn't seem that special compared to this book: I was laughing and crying for the whole thing I think. ...more
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
The ending!!! Oh my, it made it all worth it! I love when the title of the book makes sense only after you read the whole story - definitely the case with this one. Strange book, it totally got better towards the end, though.
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A truly mystical and magical world through the eyes of one southern boy's experiences living in the South during the 1940s. Things aren't always as they seem, and Chappell paints a picture of Southern living that you can taste, smell, touch, and hear. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Jim the Boy
  • Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the 116 Days that Changed the World
  • وقفة قبل المنحدر: من أوراق مثقف مصري
  • Migrations
  • فندق الثعالب
  • التفاحة والجمجمة
  • Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving
  • Lakeshire Park
  • سلامتك من الآه
  • وعاظ السلاطين
  • One Last Thing Before I Go
  • Summit
  • نجوم فى عز الظهر
  • The Great Santini
  • Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage
  • The Tall Woman
  • Umami Bomb: 75 Vegetarian Recipes That Explode with Flavor
  • After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story
See similar books…
Fred Davis Chappell retired after 40 years as an English professor at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was the Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 1997-2002. He attended Duke University.

His 1968 novel Dagon, which was named the Best Foreign Book of the Year by the Academie Française, is a recasting of a Cthulhu Mythos horror story as a psychologically realistic Southern Gothic.

His l

Related Articles

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
395 likes · 37 comments
“Our thoughts were so awesome to us, that no one could speak a word, not even ‘Goodbye.’ We hugged and clasped and wept silently.” 15 likes
“No, I thank you; I have had an elegant sufficiency of the numerous delicacies. Any more would be an unsophisticated superfluity, for gastronomic satiety admonishes me that I have reached the ultimate stage of deglutition consistent with dietetic integrity. ” 10 likes
More quotes…