In the sequel to The Troubles of Johnny Cannon (2014), Johnny Cannon’s life in little Cullman, Alabama, is anything but peaceful.
What Johnny would like more than anything is a “happy ending” (a kiss, that is) with seventh-grade schoolmate Martha Macker. But their relationship is up and down, and she resents being treated differently from Johnny’s best friend, Willie, just because she’s a girl. Willie’s friendship is more consistent and steadfast, anyway, and comes in quite handy when Johnny’s life is in danger. See, it turns out that Johnny has a Havana Mafia boss as a lifelong enemy, a man out to kill Johnny to avenge the death of his wife. It’s complicated, a story with roots in the Bay of Pigs invasion, organized crime, the Cosa Nostra, and the CIA. So, Johnny is figuring out how to stay alive, stay in love, and stay friends with Willie, whose African-American community, the Colony, seems always threatened. Campbell’s over-the-top tall tale is, at its heart, a story of friendship, happy endings, and happy beginnings. And, though this installment seems very much like the first volume, readers with a taste for a folksy Southern yarn laced with a good deal of deadly Mafia machinations will find themselves swept once again into Johnny’s oddball world.
A sprawling, good-hearted adventure—pure fun. (Historical fiction. 8-12)