Well-paced, coming-of-age story redolent with the southern charm of rural life in 1970-80s Hadlee, Mississippi. A place where Jason Lee forms a strong friendship with Samson, a black boy, and together they must battle bigotry and bullies. A time when Jason Lee has a close relationship with his traumatized Vietnam vet Uncle Mooks who is the one to explain to him the meaning of the clock of life.
Jason Lee’s seemingly easygoing world is fraught with shadows of the Vietnam conflict-as he is told to call it, racial issues,memories of linchings, prejudice, and his mother’s depression that has built up since she lost her husband in Vietnam.
A key episode takes place when Jason Lee finds his father’s diary written during his activist years in the Civil Right’s Movement. This not only gives him a previously unknown insight into his father’s beliefs and character, but also provides him with the mentor he has been missing all his life.
In the latter part of the book, a horrific twist changes Jason Lee’s outlook on life. This also takes the reader into a murky reality where truth can be submerged in the mire of discrimination.
On the whole, the smooth, personable, and often humorous writing, well-drawn characters and events make this book an appealing read for everyone from teenagers to older adults who remember the post-Vietnam years. Penelope James