Sometimes a reader experiences serendipity—in this case the discovery of a talented
author who writes what is sometimes referred to as Appalachian literature. The newly discovered
talent is Tony Earley, author of The Blue Star and an earlier book titled Jim the Boy
(also reviewed on Myshelf). As a
reader and teacher of Appalachian literature, this reviewer wonders how he overlooked such a
Earley's works carry the same flavor as other noted Appalachian writers such as Jesse Stuart
and James Still, as well as a writer from Georgia, Ferrol Sams, who may or may not be Appalachian,
but whose work shows characteristics of the genre.
The plot of The Blue Star is simple enough. The author picks up the story of Jim as he
faces the changes that come with adolescence and the prospect of going to war. The simplicity of
the plot is one of its strong points. Earley tells of a time when life was simple but hard, and
his grasp of time and place makes for pleasant reading.
Once, in an interview, Earely stated that he wrote a children's book for adults, and that seems
to be a good assessment. Even though the book is told in the third person, the dialogue seems to
be dictated by the thoughts and actions of Jim. This reviewer read The Blue Star first and
then Jim the Boy (which will be reviewed on MyShelf at the same time) second. So the review
of Jim the Boy will read more like a sequel than the prequel it actually is.
For readers who would like to get a sense of what it was like growing up in rural Appalachia
and other rural communities of the South, this novel will fill the bill. It is a delightful read.