The good always die young. Ten-year-old Roy Brown hears this after his sixteen-year-old brother Billy, the Eagle’s star basketball player, is killed in a wreck before the annual rival game against the Tigers. Alone in the kitchen before dawn the morning of Billy’s funeral, Roy remembers that day.
Tag Archives: A Fine Young Man
Alone in the kitchen before dawn the morning of Billy’s funeral, Roy remembers that day.
A FINE YOUNG MAN is a 99 cents Kindle Countdown Deal until July 19, 2016.
by Jan M
The author takes you back to rural Alabama in the 1950s. It is a coming-of-age story set in the decade of Gunsmoke, Bugs Bunny, Patsy Cline and Elvis. A tale of two brothers. Billy is the teenage basketball star, and young Roy idolizes him. The story is not fast paced, but it immerses you in farm life of the South back in the day. You’ll get to know Dad and Mama, sisters Martha and Shirley, and Sam, the farm dog. It’s a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, one not perfect, but with all the normal stresses. I feel like I could draw that farmhouse from the author’s details. The highback oak chairs carved with leaves, the blue willow china. Although the novel only spans a few days, it’s not boring–there’s Chester, a boy not quite right, who chases the school bus on his bicycle. Dodo Bird, Billy’s friend, who brings Roy’s world crashing down. The school pictures that embarrass poor young Roy. The author has a simple writing style that brings to mind To Kill a Mockingbird. (John) Northcutt Young’s punchy writing adds realism to this novel–and although it’s a tragic story, somehow you feel the family perseveres after all is sad and done. Boomers will reminisce.
Everything’s dark. The outside pole light is on. Big Red hasn’t crowed.
Roy is barefoot. Wrapped in a quilt over long johns. Striped flannel pajamas under his brother’s old bathrobe. Rubs his feet together. Wiggles his toes. Tries crossing the one that went to market over the one that stayed home.
They immediately snap apart.
Shakes his head back and forth. I should’ve worn socks.
Usually his dad lights the gas heater before leaving for the barn making the kitchen as cozy as the inside of his bed, but he isn’t sure if his dad is up. Striking matches is another too young thing to do. They were still talking around the table when I fell asleep last night. Maybe he doesn’t have to milk this morning?
Roy yawns. Rubs his eyes. Listens to his stomach growl and rumble. This morning pea soup would seem like water. Puts his knees up, feet in the seat of his chair. Pulls the quilt closer. Grandma Laura and her sisters pieced the different colored stripes, prints, and solids together when his mama was a little girl. “No pattern, just patchwork. Leftover scraps. A stained glass rainbow.”
Sighs deep and drawn-out. Sounding as empty and as hollow as he feels inside. Wishing the day is over or hadn’t even begun. Later today Billy’s body is coming home. Sunday is the funeral in the Methodist Church, then burial in the cemetery opposite the ‘Welcome to Hartsville’ sign. It will be the first grave of somebody I really used to know. (more)
A Slice of Alabama Life