(Full Length, 1960s American Historical)
It’s 1966. The Beatles have taken over the airways, Star Trek is in its first season on NBC, and 389,000 American troops are stationed in Vietnam.
A war is going on Argus, Illinois as well, between sixteen-year-old Billy Ray Fleener and his father. While his father dreams of Billy Ray joining the family business, Billy Ray dreams of moving to California, becoming a surfer, and getting into Margie Heinrich’s pants—not necessarily in that order. Instead, he gets a summer laying pipe and the dubious distinction of town hero after saving Purdy Boy, the mayor’s wife’s dachshund.
When his beloved uncle and role model Mitch is killed in combat, Billy Ray feels like he must leave Argus or be stuck there forever. With little more than the clothes on his back, he hops a bus for Helena, Arkansas to visit Mitch’s grave. Along the way he meets up with a cast of characters as varied and polarized as America itself, from a marine captain home on leave to a band of hippies bound for Graceland. Each teaches him something about love, loyalty, and the true meaning of freedom, but what Billy Ray really learns is that everyone has the power to define who they are. He may have left Argus a boy, but he returns a man.
When I began reading this story, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would I be bored reading just another YA book about a teen-aged boy?
I quickly discovered this wasn't "just another book". Yes it was a book about a teen-aged boy, but it was so much more than that. The writer skillfully places the reader into the head of his protagonist and I became immediately invested in Billy Ray and worried about the direction his life would take. As the story progressed and, as he learns about life and begins to mature, I really got hooked.
The story began in the late 60's and follows him for a couple of years. At the start, he's pretty typical: all he wants from life is to date Margie, the most popular girl in school, and to go to California and become a surfer. I don't want to go into any more detail about the story itself because l don't want to spoil this story for anyone.
I want you all to know that this is a wonderful story of a young man's growth and maturity. I really loved him, and the story. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a realistic and tender story of a young man during a difficult period in our country. I challenge you to read this and not come away at least a little affected by what he went through and the choices he made.
4.5 / 5 Flowers - This was a very good book! I'd recommend it to my friends.