Life will never be the same for Red Porter. He’s a kid growing up around black car grease, white fence paint, and the backward attitudes of the folks who live in his hometown, Rocky Gap, Virginia.
Red’s daddy, his idol, has just died, leaving Red and Mama with some hard decisions and a whole lot of doubt. Should they sell the Porter family business, a gas station, repair shop, and convenience store rolled into one, where the slogan — “Porter’s: We Fix it Right!” — has been shouting the family’s pride for as long as anyone can remember?
With Daddy gone, everything’s different. Through his friendship with Thomas, Beau, and Miss Georgia, Red starts to see there’s a lot more than car motors and rusty fenders that need fixing in his world.
When Red discovers the injustices that have been happening in Rocky Gap since before he was born, he’s faced with unsettling questions about his family’s legacy.
I’m going to go out a limb here and say that the only reason this book hasn’t won an award yet is because it’s only been out since late September. But seriously, award committees need to get on this.
I have this habit of not really reading summaries of books before I start them. Maybe a sentence or two to get the barest gist, then whatever, it’s either intrigued me or it hasn’t. The ways of a slightly jaded reader. For this book I knew it was a fatherless boy blah blah blah overcoming adversity in period story. I’m terrible, aren’t I? So I started reading and lo and behold, racial tension. Hey, that’s okay, I can handle that. Then we get into the oh-so-painful of the “rose-colored innocence being ripped from Red’s eyes as he begins to see what a horrible place the world can be” and I had to pause reading several times because it hurt my little heart for him.
I just loved this book even if quite a lot of it was tough to read at one time. I loved the small town caught in an awkward stage of growth between looming modernization and stubborn antiquity. I love all of the varied characters and their integral parts for them to play. I loved the incredibly painful growth of Red and the idyllic world he so desperately tries to hold on to. It’s just a beautiful story and one that many should read for more than just the quiet commentary on racism, the tense political climate of the Cold War and how that affected even small town America.
I so rarely compare any book to one of my childhood favorites, but if you like Holes by Louis Sacher, give this book a try. I’m certainly going to make a point of checking out Kathryn Erskine’s other books because I know they must be just as amazing.
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