"The Blue Star"
(Reviewed by Amanda Richards MAY 22, 2008)
“Just come home.”
I haven’t read Jim the Boy (the forerunner to this book) but now I’m thinking that I’ll have to go back and correct that situation. Although it’s not absolutely necessary to read the first book before this one, the excellent writing encourages the reader to go seek out more of the same.
The first book was about Jim Glass, a ten year old boy growing up in North Carolina with his mother and uncles, his father having passed away while still a young man. The story continues here with Jim as a senior in high school, still in North Carolina, still with his mother and uncles, but now it’s the start of World War II.
Young love is in bloom for Jim, but it's not with his girlfriend Norma with whom he has broken up. With hormones in full flow, Jim has fallen for Chrissie Steppe, a beautiful girl of mixed parentage who has the longest, most lustrous mane of hair he has ever seen.
Unfortunately for Jim, Chrissie’s not available, having promised wealthy boyfriend Bucky Bucklaw that she’ll wait for him until he returns from Pearl Harbor. Bucky was an early enlistee in the Navy, and Chrissie and her family work for Bucky’s father, and live on his estate high up in the mountains.
Understandably, patriotism frowns on people who try to play when the cat’s away fighting for his country, so Jim is having a pretty miserable time at High School, even though he’s on the brink of graduation.
The author successfully recreates the atmosphere of growing up during this era, with all its problems and tensions, and you feel like you actually know these people as you share their experiences.
This is a young adult book that can be enjoyed by adult readers. The prose is deceptively simple, but cleverly nuanced and thoroughly entertaining. This has the makings of a future classic.
- Amazon readers rating: from 21 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Blue Star at Hachette Books
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Here We Are in Paradise: Stories (1994)
- Jim the Boy (2000)
- Somehow Form a Family: Stories That Are Mostly True (2001)
- The Blue Star (March 2008)
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- The New York Times interview with Tony Earley
- Identity Theory interview with Tony Earley
- The New York Times review of Jim the Boy
- The New York Times review of The Blue Star
- USA Today review of The Blue Star
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About the Author:
Tony Earley was born in 1961 in San Antonio, Texas, but grew up in North Carolina, where his stories are set.
He earned his B.A. in English at Warren Wilson College and graduated in 1983. He spent four years as a reporter. He earned his MFA in creative writing from University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and soon found success in writing short stories. In 1966, Grant names him one of the "20 Best Young American Novelists."
He lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and daughter and is the Samuel Milton Fleming Associate Professor of English at Vandervilt University.