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Jim the Boy

(Jim Glass #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,972 ratings  ·  494 reviews
Jim the Boy is a coming-of-age novel by Tony Earley, published by Little, Brown and Co. in 2000. It details a year in the life of Jim Glass, who lives, with his mother and three uncles, in the small fictional town of Aliceville, North Carolina in 1934 during the Great Depression.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Back Bay Books (first published June 1st 2000)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,972 ratings  ·  494 reviews

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Jul 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers who would like to learn how to craft an emotionally resonant scene
Recommended to Thomas by: fellow writers from my MFA program
I'm ashamed to admit the first time I tried reading this book I put it down. "What a dumb title for a book," my wife said when she saw what I was reading. Last summer, about sixty pages in, I put it away, thinking it too simple and quiet.

But of two of my good writing friends were unwavering in their testimony about this novel, so I picked it up again a few days ago, and I am so glad I did.

Jim the Boy is a wonderful novel, one of those books that will stand the test of time. From the perfect meta
Ron Charles
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In an age as sophisticated as ours, what could be more avant-garde than daring to be sweet? "Jim the Boy" is essentially the tale of how a moral person develops in the care of loving adults. Jim, a 10-year-old farm boy, living with his widowed mother and three uncles during the Depression, is faced with the task of growing up. His life is ordinary without being cliche, and his feelings are rendered without an adult's tendency to sentimentalize or belittle. This remarkable novel is a reminder of ...more
Barb Middleton
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, historical
I'm a fraud. I write children's book reviews and I'm an adult. In an ideal world children would write books for children, as well as, review those books, right? The child-adult dual audience dilemma (that's a mouthful) addressed in children's literature studies crossed my mind because the author says he wrote this book from a ten-year-old's perspective for adults, and not, for children. But I don't agree with him. The story reads like a children's book that addresses children and adults as its a ...more
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Leslie wrote this review @ it represents my thoughts so well.

Maybe it's because I'm finishing this book late at night in my quiet house, but it really has touched me, especially the last 5 pages or so. A really simply, yet powerfully told story of a young boy, Jim, whose life is small but whose challenges are startlingly big. Earley's style is lovely, I found beauty on every page. Would love to read more of his work.

This passage is from page 8.

"'There he is,' Mama said. 'The birthday boy.'
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is my favorite novel of the past decade. The hardback version looked to me like a children's book; fortunately, I read the cover of the paperback edition closely enough to realize better. Earley has crafted a wonderful version of a fatherless boy coming to understand the world beyond that of his immediate family. Although set in the Depression, Jim Glass' family does not suffer too much from economic hardship. It is in interacting with others that Jim gains some understanding of hard t ...more
Megan Jones
Jan 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
This was required reading in a Methods of Teaching Class, and it was unfortunately one of the worst books I've ever read. The characters were not well developed, there was no climax to the plot, which itself was way too wholesome and very picturesque. I would never ask anyone, especially students whose time is so limited anyway, to read this book. ...more
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
ARC from Regal

Many times, I am introduced to books by authors I had no previous knowledge of. Authors that I may never have read, were it not for a helping hand. Regal Literary was the helping hand that introduced me to "Jim the Boy" by Tony Earley.

Set in North Carolina during the Great Depression, Earley takes us through a year in a young boys life, where he deals with the joys and frustrations of growing up, learning to appreciate who he is and where he comes from, and realizing that the world
This book was recommended to me years ago by my old creative director Mark Figliulo, and even though it’s usually categorized as a young adult book, I read it with my six-year-old Ansel over the course of a few months. It a gentle, vivid, and beautifully Southern story that would sit comfortably in the company of To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer, and Where The Red Fern Grows.
It’s a collection of stories - loose and formative experiences, really - centered around Jim Glass, a 10-year-old boy li
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Maybe it's because I'm finishing this book late at night in my quiet house, but it really has touched me, especially the last 5 pages or so. A really simply, yet powerfully told story of a young boy, Jim, whose life is small but whose challenges are startlingly big. Earley's style is lovely, I found beauty on every page. Would love to read more of his work.

This passage is from page 8.

"'There he is,' Mama said. 'The birthday boy.'
Jim's heart rose up briefly, like a scrap of paper on a breath of
Jen Heininger
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Along the same vein as Peace Like A River or anything by Willa Cather.... loved the simplicity of it. I feel like my 6 year old could read this is in a few years and love it too. It's a great quiet book to read. It's not chick lit, it's not Unbroken.... it's just a peaceful, well-written book that, I thought, is very refreshing. (I was excited to learn that this is the first in what is supposed to be a trilogy by Earley.) ...more
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think I should have rated this book even higher, but I think some people wouldn't enjoy it. I found it stunning in its use of language, seemingly so simple, but really so profound. The sensitivity of the boy and his family, the love they have for each other, and the way the author portrays them and the times seemed very real to me. ...more
rating: 4.5

North Carolina, 1934-'35

An interview with Earley quotes him as saying,
That I was able to write about the Depression without having to do a lot of research is because a large part of my family's story stockpile is about life during that time. I feel like I've almost lived in it myself. When my grandmother talks about the way things were, I can almost see it.

This takes place during the years of the Depression, but it doesn't describe the usual hardships. The three men have jobs; they ha
Book Concierge

Jim Glass turns ten as this novel opens. It is June 1934 and Jim and his mother live with his Uncle Zeno, right next door to his two other uncles, Al and Coran. The men farm, operate a grist mill, cotton gin and feed store. Jim’s mother, Cissy, is their sister and keeps house for them. Jim’s father died suddenly a week before Jim was born. He died without ever reconciling with his father, Amos Glass, who is a mountain man and former convict. As a result, Jim has never met his grandfather.

Sara Latta
Nov 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-for-review
The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. 11/15/09

Coming of Age in North Carolina

Although much young adult literature today is dark, edgy, and/or ironic, Tony Early’s “Jim the Boy” (Little, Brown & Company, 2000) and “The Blue Star” (Little, Brown & Company, 2008) are none of the above. Technically speaking, they’re not young adult novels, either: Earley has described “Jim the Boy” as “a children’s book for adults.” Still, many teen readers will love these books, especially those who have en
Jun 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Brian by: Jim Raterman, Frank Kovarik
Jim the Boy is a refreshingly simple story about a 10-year-old boy, Jim, navigating the Depression-laced waters of Aliceville, North Carolina. Jim’s lost his father, but what he lacks from his absence he arguably makes up with the love and care from his three uncles. And I should say that the simplicity of the story comes with the prose, making it a fast read (though I’d imagine this book could, and perhaps should, be sipped and savored), but the heart of this book should satisfy even the most e ...more
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
At one point in this wonderful story, Jim the Boy can't "think of one person in the world he wasn't mad at." We've all been there, certainly, perhaps too often and sadly, perhaps recently. When one reads it and feels it, well, that could be the main reason we eagerly turn pages. In literature, we search for stories we love then hunt for links to other stories we want to love. For me, there is a beautiful wave that starts with Chaim Potok's 1967 classic, "The Chosen", surges through this 2000 sto ...more
Vincent Lowry
Dec 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I randomly picked this novel up at the bookstore.

I was pleasantly surprised by it, and I think you'll agree if you read it!

May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-in-2017
I hate Jim the Boy. I absolutely could not stand this little brat, and I am thrilled to be done with this book!!!
A bratty 10 year old is the main character. I am not sure what possessed me to pick this book up, but had I known I'd be reading about a kid, I would have definitely passed on it. As much as I hated it, the writing was nice and placed you in a different time. I loved the adults and little Penn... so it wasn't all bad... 2.5/5
Sarah Sammis
Sep 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Jim the Boy is a quiet, evocative novel. It reads easily, but I found myself reading slowly, taking breaks after each chapter, in order to savor the book for a bit longer. The titular Jim lives in North Carolina during the Great Depression and while Earley's writing certainly takes you to a specific time and place, Jim the Boy is also the story of growing up and the aches and pains that process brings. Can you remember longing for more responsibility, only to want to shirk your duties once they ...more
Dec 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
At a 3.82 average rating, I'll take full responsibility for bringing down the curve. Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie with a male central character, but not nearly as good. The kid's a brat. Perhaps we're supposed to believe his unappealing character has been shaped by the absence of his father (who died before he was born), despite the fact he has four uncles (or was it three? I lost count). Sure, like a phantom limb he feels a connection to his father (or wants to understand ...more
Jan 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is all about great writing. It is written in a lilting, lyrical style that helps to evoke the feelings of nostalgia the story intends to exploit as it helps us to see that the past is just the past; a mixture of experiences that make us who we are by shaping our perspective on the world. The comfort some of us experience when we look back is really just a reaction to the security we feel in knowing how that story ends. The future is so much more uncertain, with death looming at the end ...more
Chris Callaway
Mar 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A simple coming of age story about a boy who begins to get a feel for what life is about. I loved it, and I'm not even completely sure why I loved it, but part of the reason is its portrayal of how complicated life can be or seem to a boy, even one growing up in a small, Southern town where life is supposed to be "simple." I enjoyed the whole thing, but the ending blew me away. There's a simple, straightforward authenticity to the book that derives from the author's style--it reads almost like J ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite style of book. Simple, quiet and profound. It is finely crafted and not a word is wasted. Though it is a full, rich novel, each chapter stands alone as a beautiful short story. Almost perfect.
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is a tender look into the life of Jim Glass during his tenth year in Depression-era North Carolina. I'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age novel, and this one didn't let me down. ...more
H Gibson
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read my full review at on 4/21/15
Beth Ording
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read. Simple yet profound. ...more
Quinten Kempf
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Name: Quinten Kempf

Book title: Jim the Boy

Personal Response

Personally, I really liked Jim the Boy. I like that the book is more a slice of life from the perspective of a young boy. It takes away the complexity and makes the reading relaxing and enjoyable.

Plot Summary

The book is about a young boy named Jim, and his everyday life. The book is set in a fictional town called Aliceville, in North Carolina, during the great depression. Jim’s father died of a heart attack just days before he was born
Dec 07, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars - Jim the Boy by Tony Earley is a sweet tale of a young man that begins on his 10th birthday and ends on his 11th. Jim Glass has a mother and three uncles that raise him in tiny Aliceville, North Carolina. Jim is an ordinary boy, obsessed with baseball, fascinated with the train that comes through the town, and palling around with his friend Penn. His father died just before he was born and he relies on his uncles for his manly needs and his mother for love and comfort.

It was very inte
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Tony Earley (born 1961) is an American novelist and short story writer. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, but grew up in North Carolina. His stories are often set in North Carolina.

Earley studied English at Warren Wilson College and after graduation in 1983, he spent four years as a reporter in North Carolina, first as a general assignment reporter for The Thermal Belt News Journal in Columbus, a

Other books in the series

Jim Glass (2 books)
  • The Blue Star

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