River Season
Jim Black
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River Season

Jim Black
Viking Press
192 pages
July 2003
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Jim Black's young adult novel River Season is a wonderful, well-written and powerful autobiographical tale. It documents main character Jim's thirteenth summer and the events that would forever change his life. The story takes place in 1966 in a town along the banks of the Little Wichita River, just four miles north of Black's real hometown ofArcher City, Texas.

Jim loves fishing. On his way down to the river one day, he finds an African-American man fishing in Jim's regular spot. The two bond immediately for one main reason: they both love to fish and they both love baseball. Possibly the bond is stronger because it satisfies for each of them an even more basic need -- Jim has no father and longs for a male role model; Sam has no children, and always wanted some.

Prejudices being what they are, especially in the South during the '60s, some people are a little uncomfortable with Jim and Sam's friendship. Sam is one of only two African Americans living in the area. The other is Rose, his wife. Regardless, Jim knows Sam is a true friend and values their relationship.

Perhaps it is when Jim first sees and then meets Lorrie that he knows his life is about to change. Though her character is not featured much in the pages, her presence is never far from Jim's mind. It is Sam's all-powerful love for Rose that teaches Jim what love is all about.

Jim and his friends spend the summer mowing lawns to earn money, camping, riding in cars, seeing movies, fishing, sailing the river, making discoveries, keeping secrets, dodging bullies and skirting trouble with the law. What more could you want to read about in a heartfelt and engaging novel about friends, enemies and prevailing love?

While reading this book, I often envisioned myself sitting on a porch in the cool of a setting Texas sun sharing an ice-cold Coke with Jim Black, just listening as he told me about his two best friends, Gary and Charles. I'd laugh when he'd share stories about how they liked to run around town, pulling off crazy, relatively harmless pranks, and in many ways be reminded of the friends I had while growing up.

Jim Black's talented writing and storytelling makes River Season a hard-to-put-down book. The impact of all that happens will linger with the reader long after the final pages have been turned. From start to finish, River Season is will carry readers willingly away on a fast-flowing current.

© 2003 by Phillip Tomasso III for Curled Up With a Good Book

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