Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Blue Star (copy)

Last week, I wrote about “Jim the Boy” by Tony Earley. I enjoyed it so much I read his second book, “The Blue Star,” this week. Normally, I do not read the same author back-to-back. Being a librarian, it is important to experience all types of authors and genres. One might say, better to have a taste of an author’s writing than to spend valuable time analyzing his complete works.

It was Earley’s style that intrigued me. Does “The Blue Star” have the same clear, unassuming story? Will I sit eagerly turning the pages for everyday, ordinary events as occur in “Jim the Boy”? Most important, will hero Jim Glass be compromised by his initial success in the first book?

I am pleased to announce “The Blue Star” is not as quiet, episodic and verging on nostalgic as “Jim the Boy” but evermore pleasing. Jim is 17 now, and 17-year-olds are loud. He still encounters small events which become large, but in a flowing manner than end of chapter cliffhangers. As for nostalgia, we see Jim look back only to remind himself why he does not like the fair-hair Norma Harris anymore. She won’t let him kiss her.

Jim stands proudly with other senior boys on the top steps of the Aliceville High School in the beginning of the book. From years of watching his predecessors, he knows he need only move when a teacher passes. Next to him stands Dennis Deane, his very uncouth and obnoxious friend. All summer Dennis has worked on perfecting a line that will make all the girls fall in love with him. He uses this first day of school to try it out on pretty passersby who get stuck working their way through the crowd.

First through the gauntlet is Ellie Something. (No, I have not forgotten her name.) Ellie is totally stricken by the line and runs blushing to the door as soon as Jim steps aside clearing the way. Not quite the reactions Dennis is looking for, but wait. Here comes half-Cherokee maiden Chrissie Steppe.

Beautiful, long black-hair Chrissie who dates Bucky Bucklaw, a U.S. sailor stationed at Pearl Harbor, is a challenge. Jim asks Dennis to lay-off, but he can’t resist. As she nears, he closes his eyes, puckers up, and says, “Hey. Chrissie Steppe. Kiss me.” The fists ball and the fur detach to fly as Jim steps between the two opponents.

By school’s end, most the boys standing on the top steps will be off to war. “The Blue Star” is number two in the Jim Glass trilogy. The last installment Earley promises to return Jim safe from the war - possibly a quiet man, definitely a man.

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