A group of kids in rural upstate New York have a series of adventures in the years following World War II.
Young Jerry Antil has always been a city boy, so when he and his family—including his mother, his baker father Big Mike and his brothers Mike and Dick—move from the town of Cortland, N.Y., to the country in 1948, he knew he’d have to make some adjustments. Luckily Jerry, like others who grew up during World War II, is a resourceful kid who knows how to make the best of any situation. And thanks to his father, Jerry knows that if you pay attention there’s plenty of adventure to be had no matter where you are. He and a group of likeminded kids form the Pompey Hollow Book Club, and before long they are finding excitement everywhere, whether they’re looking for a group of thieves who have been breaking into local businesses or trying to save a gaggle of innocent poultry from a grisly end on the Thanksgiving table. Although structured as a series of discrete stories, the flow of the narrative feels more like a novel than a collection of short stories. The characters are well developed—especially the kids—and the prose is plain but competent. The humor is more goofy than witty, but it will be a hard-hearted reader who won’t chuckle at least once. The novel occasionally comes across as a little saccharine, but it feels honest and heartfelt all the same. The most affecting passages describe Jerry’s relationship with his extraordinary father, who instills in him a strong sense of decency, as well as a love for adventure. The author makes a compelling point by stressing the idea that growing up in wartime had a profound effect on the outlook and attitudes of the children, among other things allowing them to make the most of any situation.
A heartfelt story about growing up in the shadow of World War II.