Feature

Novel of the week

The Blue Star by Tony Earley

The Blue Star by Tony Earley (Little, Brown, $24)

Straightforward narratives about “good people trying to live good lives” are among the most difficult stories to tell, said Scott Turow in The New York Times. Tony Earley met the challenge brilliantly with Jim the Boy, his plainspoken 2000 portrait of a 10-year-old growing up in Depression-era North Carolina. His latest novel, which picks up Jim’s life seven years later, proves nearly as “irresistible.” In The Blue Star, Jim is negotiating his first crush and his first encounters with class divides and the vagaries of war. But he is the same “caring, thoughtful” boy he was at 10, and Earley paints Jim’s world with the same sure touch. Much of the novel’s action is internal, said Carmela Ciuraru in the Los Angeles Times. It shows Jim learning gradually that love can’t conquer all—that there are forces in life outside his control. The Blue Star “isn’t quite as free from the taint of melodrama as Jim the Boy,” said Yvonne Zipp in The Christian Science Monitor. Still, it’s a “rarity”: a simple story “told without fuss or flourish” by a writer who “knows what he’s doing on every page.”

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