Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Blue Star
Sequel to Jim the Boy

by Tony Earley


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 talent.

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.

The Book

Back Bay Books / Hachette
August 26, 2009
0316008052 / 978-0316008051
More at

The Reviewer

Willie Elliott
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Willie Elliott is's "Before the Title" columnist, covering non-fiction books and related subjects.
© 2009