Author: Nancy Crocker
Publisher: Medallion Press
Type of book: 1910, Missouri, road trip, Model T, Kansas, small towns, travel, racism, boxing match, summer, coming-of-age, plans, blindness, Yellowstone Park, dealing with past, parent-child relationships, Colorado, unexpected opportunities, Wyoming, adventures, Utah, Midwest, colorful and quirky characters
Year it was published: 2014
Missouri, 1910. John Hartmann is graduating from high school under the critical eye of his father and has no idea what options lie beyond the family farm and his small town.
When Paul Bricken, nineteen and blind, buys a brand-new Ford Model T and suggests John drive him to Yellowstone National Park, John jumps at the chance.
He’s less enthusiastic about inviting Henry Brotherton, who’s loud, crude, and a bigot—but Henry’s available both as a second driver and a tough guy who might be helpful in a tight spot.
As the three young men set off on their tumultuous journey, America is preparing for the fight of the century between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries—and is headed for its biggest racial upheaval since the Civil War.
With Yellowstone drawing ever closer and tensions rising, Paul, John, and Henry will soon learn there is a great deal they didn’t know about the fledgling American Midwest—or about each other.
The main characters include Paul, John and Henry. Paul is the intelligent yet blind owner of Ford who desires to be seen for more than his blindness and "defects" and he is also more of the peacemaker between Henry and John as well as a voice of reason for when the three of them get into trouble. He also has a big heart and is interested in the boxing match. John is the character that gives the narrative and he seems to be a "mother-hen" type character that is a bit bossy and often is responsible for recalling the small and important details. He is one of the drivers and one that gets the characters out of some troubles. Henry is the tough guy and it seems as if a lot of people gave up on him and have negative impression of him. At beginning Henry is described as a bully and seems to have mentality of following the crowd until he is shown kindness and then begins to change his views. He is protective and clever.
Don't squander learning opportunities and don't give up
The story is in first person narrative from John's point of view and is set chronologically. While there is some focus on character growth, I feel that a lot of focus is on the action as well as the towns that the characters passed, and the car itself also invites a lot of focus. (I seriously had no idea that tire changes were so frequent back then!) In a way as well, the book invites the readers to explore the past/present connection of racism towards African-Americans and other minorities, and also the importance of finding self through a road trip.
I have to say that the talking/writing style of John took me a chapter or two to get used to. I don't think I expected that type of vernacular. However, once I got used to the vernacular, I found myself really enjoying the story and traveling through small towns and different states on a Ford in 1910 with three male characters. The story has its funny moments when things that can go wrong do go wrong, and it also has its serious moments in terms of black vs white races in a fight that should be the fight of the century, or when one of the characters begins to contemplate lessons he is learning in life. Definitely a coming-of-age story with a lot of realizations and goals about what the men want to do with themselves.
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)