Kim Cabrera's Reviews > The Boys Who Woke Up Early

The Boys Who Woke Up Early by A.D. Hopkins
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it was amazing

Stony Shelor is in high school and has a crush on a girl named Mary Lou. Stony is already in trouble with the law and trying to stay out of reform school, so he has to be careful how he treads. It’s the 1950’s, and racism is alive and well in his town of Early. A new boy, Jack, moves to town and he and Stony become friends. They hatch up a scheme to become private detectives and start hanging out at the police station. The police are only too happy to put the two new volunteers to work on office projects, but don’t let them solve actual crimes. The boys eventually get themselves hired by an important man in town whose house was burglarized. They are on the case and trying to find the stolen items! Meanwhile, they find out other things that are going on in town, including the big secret, the Ku Klux Klan is in town.

Both boys have access to guns, which apparently was the way things were in rural towns in that era. Jack carries one with him most of the time. Stony can borrow his father’s gun when he wants to. During their investigation, the boys spy on an old rival, part of a hillbilly family, and end up in a gunfight with him. The boys find out that Stony’s family and this family have a long-running family feud. Stony is in trouble again.

The seemingly innocent life of this early time hides a dark secret. The town has prominent men who are part of the KKK. This leads to problems later on and the boys are deeply involved in the entire affair.

This novel brings up some issues that faced society back then and some that still plague us today. For that reason, the title seems appropriate. In effect, the boys woke up the town to some of the things that were going on out of sight. It is a good examination of life in a small town. The narrator is writing as if he is looking back on his past, in a memoir form. The reader sees how his memories from that time are indelibly etched. The events played a transformative role in the life of the town as well as the boys.

The books works well as historical fiction, but also as an adventure story. The issues it brings up would be excellent lead-ins to classroom discussions. The differences between that time period and the current one as far as the attitudes toward guns could be a starting point for classroom dialog. The Jim Crow laws during the era of this story would be a good lesson for classroom discussion. There are many aspects of the book that teachers could use with their students to generate thoughtful writing prompts. I recommend it to classroom teachers especially for that reason. The story lends itself well to getting students thinking about these things. It’s also just a good read and has a powerful message to get across to the reader.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 30, 2018 – Shelved

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