The cumulative nature of the narrative serves to highlight the character of the Smiths and the aftermath of their actions–the battle of wills between Alan's headstrong mother and the school bus driver in “The School Bus: Part One” reverberates in a follow-up, where Alan and his older siblings still face repercussions. In particular, it serves to map Alan’s changes, developments, and reversions. Though early story “The Kiss,” find Alan struggling to understand his white mother’s anger over the fact that he and a Black girl kissed while playing house, later stories, like “The Gravel Pit,” show him succumbing to prejudices himself, and “The Real World” demonstrates such a drastic shift in him that he, himself, is alarmed.
Broome turns everyday dramas–like the return of a neighbor from Vietnam in “Walter Lee,” a school scandal before a big football match in “The Big Game”–into case studies of the ties that connect people–and divide us. Balancing those heavy subjects is Broome’s incisive, inviting prose and Alan's blend of incredulity and youthful acceptance of those around him. That makes this an engaging read offering an undiluted reflection on life.
Takeaway: A sharp but warm examination of human nature through stories of a southern boy coming of age.
Great for fans of: Lewis Nordan’s Music of the Swamp, Chris Offut.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A