Friday, October 2, 2009

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton

Release Date: Available Now from Philomel!!


Jimmy lives in Rowlesburg, West Virginia, during the 1940s. He does all the things boys do in the small mountain town: plays a mean game of football, pulls the unforgettable Halloween prank with his friends in “the Platoon,” and promises to head off into the woods on the first day of hunting season— no matter what. He also knows his father belongs to a secret society, and is determined to uncover the mysteries behind it! But it is a midnight encounter with a train that shows Jimmy the man his father really is.

Newcomer Fran Cannon Slayton’s powerful first novel captures the serendipity of boyhood by shining a spotlight on the peak adventures of Jimmy’s life. But at its heart, this is a story about a boy and his father in a time when trains reigned supreme.

I am so glad that Fran offered to send me a copy of her book. When I read the synopsis, it immediately made me think of my grandfather and my great-grandfather. I'm not sure why really, since my grandfather's family is from a coal town in Kentucky, not a railroad town in West Virginia, but all the same, it made me think of stories my grandparents told me growing up. Basically this book is like sitting and listening to my grandparents fascinating tales of yesteryear.

I've always loved hearing about life in the '30s and '40s when so much was changing so quickly. This novel is a snapshot of life in the '40s and a beautiful representation of how change no matter how big or small, can completely change the course of not just one person's life, but the life of an entire town.

I loved reading about Jimmy and his friends and watching Jimmy's world slowly change around him year after year. It's a fantastic read and one that I might not have found otherwise. So, if you don't see it in your bookstore, ask about it and seek it out. You won't be disappointed.

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