George1st's Reviews > The Boys Who Woke Up Early

The Boys Who Woke Up Early by A.D.  Hopkins
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It is interesting to note that this is A. D. Hopkins first novel and although the characters are fictitious the themes and story lines are derived and inspired by his 46 years working as a journalist in Virginia, North Carolina, and Las Vegas focusing for much of that time on small town life. The experiences and people he encountered in the police stations and courthouses of Virginia are here used to telling effect as he produces a novel that looks below the surface of what life was like in a small western Virginia town during the closing days of the Eisenhower years. A time of contradictions where the ostensible small town stability and order was underpinned by rigid racial segregation backed by that state's Jim Crow laws and the possibility of violence erupting at any time.

The novel takes the form of a memoir written in later life by Stony Shelor who looks back at the time when attending High School in the town of Jubal Early he teams up with a new entrant Jack Newcomb to assist in the local sheriff's office. Often more of a hindrance than a help their first case concerns solving a series of burglaries at the local district attorney's house. This is the start of a series of adventures that will see the boys involved in a gunfight with the local hillbilly boy, try to close down an illegal brothel and moonshine operation as well as coming up against the local Ku Klux Klan.

There is no doubt that A. D. Hopkins is a fine storyteller and along with meeting a collection of memorable characters the reader is presented a picture of how racially divided and discriminatory such a small town at that time would be. Certainly to a UK reader the language and attitudes are quite shocking but were of course perfectly normal for many at that time. Hopefully things have moved on. Other things that stand out from the book are the level of corruption, the proliferation of guns of all sorts and the high level of poverty that existed for both communities. This may indeed be still the case as I do not expect that the local mills then in existence would have survived.

In conclusion, this is a thought provoking coming of age drama that goes beneath the surface to present a picture of a community and society in transition and it shows how division and fear detrimentally effects the human condition. Well worth a read and hopefully there will be more from this writer. in the future.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 15, 2018 – Shelved

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