When Little Joe Stout survives the car accident that took his parents’ lives, he is sent to live with his maternal grandparents in the small town of Round Rock, Tennessee. Orphaned and missing his Texas home, Little Joe is reluctant to adapt. But his grandparents, especially his grandmother, are up to the challenge of raising him despite their own struggles. Soon, childhood friendships are forged in the oddball duo of Sugar and Bobby, and—with the help of a new canine companion—Little Joe begins to see that his new home offers the comfort and love he thought was lost forever.
Set against the drama of World War II and the first sparks of the civil rights movement, Little Joe’s new home is a microcosm of America in the 1940s. A frightening incident with a Chinese motorist traveling on the wrong side of town, the migration of troops across the countryside, and a frank discussion of Jim Crow laws are just a few of the local events mirroring the radio broadcasts that bring the news of the day into his grandmother’s kitchen.
Received in ebook format from netgalley
This is a book of a more innocent time, with an orphaned child from Texas being sent to live with his grandparents in Tennessee. It’s a new way of life for him. so he not only has to cone to terms with surviving the car crash that killed his parents, but with living on a farm instead of the city, with people who he doesnt know that well. There are some hard lessons to learn: dont name the chickens as it’s hard to kill and eat something you see as a friend. Pigs are bred to be killed and eaten. There are bullies at school and you have to learn to deal with them There are other lessons that Joe learns, often without realising: what family and friends are about. how to look after others and that other people can feel sorrow. That there is still bigotry, even after the civil war that freed the slaves.
This is a story about a 10 year old, and easily read by a 10 year old. There is no deep or meaningful exposition or character development. Lessons are taught even outside the schoolroom by both grandparents, even if Little Joe doesn’t realise it at the time. The language is plain, simple and uncomplicated. It’ll be interesting to see if the next book in the series is written the same way or differently. Not everyone will take pleasure in the writing style – it is quite plain and simple, and it’s not deep on characterisation, which some people dislike.
Not having read the “Little House” stories, I dont know whether other people’s comparisons stand up – I have read similar stories such as “Anne of Green Gables” and whilst this is not as gleaming positive in it’s style of writing, the reading level is about the same.