Tony Earley’s novel Jim the Boy is as, if not more, valuable than it was when published ten years ago. In it, Earley beautifully and effortlessly follows around ten-year old Jim during the Great Depression in remote Aliceville, North Carolina. Jim the Boy is a taste of something delicious from childhood, unforgettable, pure—perfect in its simplicity.
Earley draws readers close to Jim; I wished he were my little brother, my son—I wished I were him. His innocence and humility is captivating and contagious. Jim feels deathly ill as he regrets moments of selfishness, times when he could have been a better friend. But the sadness laced throughout the delicate chapters is overwhelmed by joy—and hope, kindness, gratitude, sincere compassion—which is sometimes forgotten during bleak times. As we were (or are?) in what has been called the second Depression, a read like this is immensely enjoyable, necessary, and important.
Suddenly I find myself wanting to explore the woods in my backyard; Jim the Boy reinforces a feeling of curiosity and smallness that warms in this wet New Jersey winter.
Bio: Kristen Brunelli is an intern at Guernica. Read her last recommendation of Zee Avi and Leah Siegel here.