Jim the Boy is growing up. On the cusp of America's entry into WWII, Jim Glass is a senior in high school. He and his friends are the big kahunas at school and they intend for their last year to be a good one. It's a year in which Jim falls in love and much changes. He still lives with his widowed mother and his three bachelor uncles, has the run of town in his car, and goes about with his buddies. But he's fallen in love with Chrissie Steppe, who lives up on the mountain and is the girlfriend of one of last year's seniors who has joined the navy and is stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As the story unfolds, Jim wants nothing more than to figure a way for Chrissie to be his girl, not Bucky's.
Earley has once again beautifully captured the feel of small town southern USA in the early 40's. He has delicately limned social issues through Jim, Chrissie, and Jim's friends, touching on racism, teen pregnancy, and the gathering storm of war. As charming as the first book, this one deftly handles a boy becoming a man and the reader is swept along as Jim comes to understand that so much of what lies underneath adult interactions would have been unknowable to him as a child. He is still a delightful and sympathetic character. Hearkening back to a quieter, in some ways more innocent time, this is a wonderful read that will please those who have read the first novel and will even enchant those who haven't as a stand-alone novel. Here's hoping we see more of Jim Glass in the future.
Thanks to Back Bay Books and the folks at Hatchette for sending me a review copy of this book.