A brilliant YA coming-of-age story with magnetic characters and literary flair…
Set against the backdrop of World War II, Gutteridge’s latest is a leisurely exploration of a boy’s young life in a fictional Ontario lakeside town. It’s summer of 1944. War is raging in Europe. Eleven-year-old Junior’s father is away because of war, and things between his mother and grandparents are tense with whom they are living. With long summer days stretched ahead, Junior and other boys plan to put on a home-grown circus. Meanwhile, weird happenings are keeping the townsfolk on the edge. Gutteridge is an experienced writer and has created a wonderful character in Junior, who is sensitive yet tough and keenly aware of his surroundings. He also has a wicked way with observations. Readers will feel his agony over his mother and grandmother’s dwindling relationship, his adolescent trepidations around opposite sex, and his growing fear about his father’s posting in the active war zones. Through Junior’s personal journey, Gutteridge brings out the spirit of the small Ontario lakeside town while delving into questions of love, familial relationships, longing, old-fashioned teenage angst, adolescent sexuality, and how war affects not only nations but the individuals fighting it and those close to them. Despite its exploration of weighty subjects, the narrative never gets bogged down with heaviness; on the contrary, Gutteridge’s writing keeps the things light and fun. The novel alternates between Junior’s home life and his leisurely outings with his friends, capturing the group of friends as passionate, occasionally rancorous adolescents. Readers will root for the boys as they try to make their circus a success. Steeped in the rhythms of the small Canadian town, this beautifully rendered coming-of-age story is a must-read.
Pub date August 4, 2020
Price $20.00 (USD) Paperback, $3.15 Kindle edition