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Over and Under by Todd Tucker
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Over and Under

by Todd Tucker

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Fourteen year old best friends Andy and Tom have known each other all of their lives growing up in the small town of Borden, Indiana. It is the 1970's and the two boys roam the countryside exploring woods and caves and always carrying their beloved Springfield M6 Scout rifles, known as an "over and under". Their fathers work at the local casket company, Andy's father in management and Tom's dad in the plant itself. The union workers have gone on strike causing widespread discord in Borden but making for the most exciting summer Andy and Tom could ever imagine. The quiet of the Indiana afternoon is shattered one day when an explosion blows out the back of the casket company and the two boys, who are not supposed to be anywhere near the strikers, see two men running away from the blast into the woods. When it is found that a casket company executive was inside the plant and was killed during the explosion the seriousness of the strike takes on new dimensions. Tom and Andy decide to spend their time searching for "the bombers" but what they find instead is a town that is ready to rip apart at the seams due fear and suspicion and the two boys will lose their boyish innocence during the sweltering heat of summer.

The two boys are very likeable and they have quite inventive and adventurous minds. The story was not quite what I had expected though. I had thought it was going to be a mystery but there was never any question as to who the culprits were; it was more a question of who would find them first - the boys or the police. Fortunately it was fairly short and quick to read.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
Andrew Jackson Gray tells of his growing up in the 1970s in small town Borden, Indiana, of his friendship with Thomas Jefferson Kruer, and of the strike at the Borden Casket Company that occurred the year during the boys' thirteenth year.

Twelve year old Andy and Tom are best friends, they spend all their spare time together playing, fishing and generally being adventurous and mischievous in woods that surround Borden. One of the highlights of their year is the gift they each receive of a Springfield M-6 Scout rifle from their respective fathers, a gift which which opens up new adventures for them and enables them to hone the already very good shooting abilities.

However their fathers both work for the Borden Casket Company, Tom's on the shop floor, Andy's as management, yet the strike at the company that year does not affect their friendship, and their parents would not even imagine suggesting any such thing to them. As the boys do their best to understand what is going on, their inquisitiveness gets them more involved in the dispute than is good for them, tests their loyalties to the limits, and ultimately puts them in serious danger.

Over and Under is an involving and warm story of friendship and loyalty. It extends beyond the friendship of the two boys touching on how the friendships of others are also affected. It is also about Borden and the countryside around the small town, the author's interest in history apparent in the intertwining of factual references within the story. But the heart of the story is Andy and Tom's friendship, and it is portrayed as one that is trusting, loyal and based on a thorough understanding of each other.

The characters are well drawn, and the locality beautifully described. Andy's father is methodical and caring, clearly proud of his son; his mother is involved in feminist activities and mysteriously involved with the local sheriff in matters that will eventually come to light. If I have a reservation it is that it took a long time for Tom to emerge as a fully fledged character, and even then I felt he was never quite fully developed.

However this is a beautiful story, and being told in retrospect it has the advantage that it closes with the brief details of what eventually happens to the two boys as they live on into adulthood. ( )
  presto | Apr 22, 2012 |
When the local casket company workers go on strike during the summer of 1979, twelve-year-old best friends Andy and Tom learn that their fathers represent opposite sides of the strike. They are seasoned explorers of the caves and woods in their rural community. They own identical Springfield M-6 Scout rifles that they shoot with skill and accuracy. But during this watershed summer, their youthful adventures lead them into the unfamiliar and dangerous world of violence. : Over and Under is a beguiling novel about growing up in Southern Indiana in the last quarter of the 20th century. The first-person narrator gives an account of the adventures of two boys that would be the stuff of dreams, for many readers, and sets it against conflict in the adult community. Using detailed setting and likeable characters, the author creates an appealing story in this 2009 Alex Award Winner. ( )
1 vote martitia | Mar 17, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312379900, Hardcover)

In the summer of 1979, Andy and Tom are two fourteen-year-old boys---best friends, expert cave explorers, and crack shots with their Springfield M-6 Scout rifles. In rural southern Indiana they are blissfully unaware of the local labor strife surrounding the Borden Casket Company. The fact that Andy’s dad is a manager and Tom’s dad is a union laborer has no bearing on their fun and adventure.

But in the building summer heat, violence quickly erupts---including an explosion, a murder, and the escape of two fugitives---and the young boys can no longer ignore that the world around them has forever changed. Through their secret observations of labor meetings, both boys feel the effect of the dissolution, and it tests their loyalty and friendship, as well as the town's spirit.

What began as a season of independence becomes a summer of growth and change, of adventure and misbehavior. Reminiscent of Stand by Me and To Kill a Mockingbird, Over and Under is the quintessential story of ruddy-faced, scheming, precocious boys who must navigate that hazy boundary between growing up and making the most of their last summer of innocence and freedom as they explore the wilds of rural Indiana, see the most amazing gunshot of their lives, and discover what it means to be friends.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:15 -0400)

The bond of friendship is tested when the fathers of two twelve-year-old boys become enemies during the Borden Casket Company labor strike -- one is a manager, and the other is a union laborer -- as the boys, Andy and Tom, share one last life-changing summer.… (more)

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