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Jim the Boy by Tony Earley
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Jim the Boy (2000)

by Tony Earley

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8352916,322 (3.92)85
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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
"Jim the Boy" is a sort of novel told in short stories. The stories all take place within one year of Jim's life. His father died ten days before he was born, and he lives with is mother, and for the most part his three unmarried uncles, who are all fathers to him. Each tale is poignant and beautifully told, with an air that leaves the reader always knowing there is a little more to the story that is left to the imagination.
I'm not sure if the book is intended for adults or adolescents, but it would be completely appropriate for either. Each audience would probably read the book on a different level. ( )
  fingerpost | Jul 23, 2017 |
An extremely well-written, gentle story of Jim Glass, a 10-year old boy growing up in the town of Aliceville, North Carolina during the Depression. Jim lives with his mother and three bachelor uncles after his father's death by heart failure at the young age of 23. The book explores Jim's relationship with his family, and his burgeoning awareness of the world beyond his family's property. An endearing cast of characters round out what is a good and wholesome story. ( )
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
As a prequel, this didn't match my expectations. It was certainly a different world and Tony Earley remains a masterful writer, but something in this book failed to grip me. ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
Very sweet quick read about a young boy coming of age in a small town in NC during the 1920's. Jim grapples with going to a new school, territorial kids from other towns, the harsh realities of the Depression, sickness, living with his single mother and among his 3 uncles since his father died a week prior to his birth, and coming to grips with his own heritage, as ugly as that may have been. A nice simple approach to the writing allows us to go on this journey with Jim, and beautifully captures what it can feel like to be 10 and 11. Much love and support from his family gently teach him that the world is far from perfect, things do not always go how you want, but within us all is the strength and wisdom to figure out the right thing to do if we can only learn to find it. Charming little vignettes reveal that the world is so much very bigger than Jim ever realized, and may wish was not so.......as with all of us! Nicely done! ( )
  jeffome | May 14, 2017 |
A touching, bucolic story of a boy growing up in depression-era North Carolina. His 10 to 11 year-old life rings authentic, such as forming tentative friendships at school, and steering clear of the bullies in town. The dedicated love shown Jim by his mother and three adoring farmer uncles wins me over to the book, and his special bond with a boy from the mountains, a wonderfully well drawn friendship, seals the deal. Simply yet evocatively written by Earley. Endearing. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Sep 7, 2016 |
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Epigraph
"I love it here in the barn," said Wilbur. "I love everything about this place." -E.B. White Charlotte's Web
Dedication
For Sarah California
First words
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today, for your son Jim Glass, age twenty-three, has gone to live with the Lord.
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Book description
Hailed as one of those rare works with the power to enchant readers of all ages, this lumninous novel tells the story of a boy growing up in a mall North Carolina town during the Great Depression-at a atime when America itself was young and struggling to come into its own.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316198951, Paperback)

Tony Earley made his debut with Here We Are in Paradise, a superbly understated collection of (mostly) small-town vignettes. He returns to the same terrain in his first novel, Jim the Boy, setting this coming-of-age story in a remote North Carolina hamlet. The year is 1934, and like the rest of the country, Aliceville is feeling the pinch of the Great Depression. Yet neither Jim nor his mother nor his three uncles--who have split the paternal role neatly among themselves since the death of Jim's father a decade earlier--are feeling much in the way of economic pain. Indeed, if you stuck a satellite dish on the front lawn, the story might be taking place in the New South rather than the older, bucolic one.

This isn't to suggest that Earley is deaf to social detail. Indeed, there are all sorts of wonderful touches, like the décor in Jim's classroom, with its "large, colorful maps of the United States, the Confederacy, and the Holy Land during the time of Jesus." But Jim the Boy is very much the tale of a 10-year-old's expanding consciousness, which at first barely extends beyond the family property. Earley has a real gift for conveying childhood epiphanies, like Jim's sudden apprehension of the wider world during a trip in Uncle Al's truck:

Two thoughts came to Jim at once, joined by a thread of amazement: he thought, People live here, and he thought, They don't know who I am. At that moment the world opened up around Jim like hands that, until that moment, had been cupped around him; he felt very small, almost invisible, in the open air of their center, but knew that the hands would not let him go. It was almost like flying.
The simple lyricism and anti-ironic sweetness work mostly to the book's advantage. There are times, it's true, when Earley sands his prose down to an unnatural smoothness, and we seem to be edging toward the sentimental precincts of a young-adult novel. But on the whole, Jim the Boy is a lovely, meticulous work--a song of innocence and (eventually) experience, delivered with just a hint of a North Carolina accent. --James Marcus

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Both delightful and wise, Jim the Boy brilliantly captures the pleasures and fears of youth at a time when America itself was young and struggling to come into its own.

» see all 3 descriptions

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