on June 4, 2013
A two-year old child is kidnapped when a father is momentarily distracted. That tragedy sets into motion a life-altering journey affecting Sam, the father, Maureen, the mother, their oldest son - James, and the soon-to-be-born, Dylan. Who took David and will he ever be found?
Jack B. Downs creates characters that are so believable the reader is quickly drawn into their lives, feelings, and motivations. Racism, bullying, adventure on the road, suicide, young love, mystery - it's all here.
This is a book I read in two days because I was drawn to this family, and the grief that separated them. Would their family ties be strong enough to overcome resentments and shortcomings? Would the mystery of David's disappearance ever be solved?
In addition to characters that seem to have flesh and blood, what creates magic in a story for me is when I become involved with choices the characters need to make. Jack Downs writes with clarity, sensitivity, and humor even in the presence of grief - and the reader benefits from the truth of his perceptions.
This book resonated with me in a personal way. In my own family, when my young aunt died many years ago, her husband subsequently took off and left behind his two infant children - creating repercussions and heartbreak that still sting the present.
Buried Treasure is not a story of pirates and fool's gold. It is an exploration of a family tragedy, and how it unfolds. The wealth is in the words, and Jack B. Downs delivers. We are the richer for his story and his craft.
on July 26, 2013
Relationships. Relationships. As a retired English teacher in middle and high school, I would recommend this to my students. The very few boy-girl explorations lead us to authenticity, not to explicit titillation. In an era where the latter prevails, Jack Downs has given us characters I was used to seeing in the halls daily and seeing their inner struggles through their writings. Students need human and authentic adult guidance. Like Sarah Dessen's This Lullaby, Downs shows us as adults how we should behave, and, if we are willing to recall those coming of age years in our own past, how mistakes can be repaired and the values to young lives that flow from the heart's best and sometimes painful work to repair itself. Read this book with your young one; leave it around the house with your book mark in it. I think it will get snapped up.
To the story, I loved Dylan. Somehow, as the one behind and not able to 'do' something, I think he suffered more. James always had the option of taking action. While I avidly followed James, I put myself deeper in Dylan, perhaps because I was the younger brother to my older brother (number 2 of 6); we were closer in age than I was to the others. Down's ability to turn a phrase creatively without forcing it or diverting the reader's attention brings us deeper into the story. I could not put down my search for understanding and for the treasure that comes to us all with a good read.
on April 10, 2013
I was apprehensive about reading this book because I was not in the mood to deal with a story about the loss of a kidnapped child. But this book did not focus on that; instead it focused on how family members are so interconnected and affected by each other, all while telling an interesting story. The story was riveting, with many twists and turns, and I enjoyed the surprise ending! I got so into the characters that I would love to see a sequel. Sometimes I am suspect that male authors can connect with a female audience, but this one certainly could, even with the many male characters in the book. I found it interesting and enjoyable to read, and I will certainly pick up another Jack Downs book when it comes out!
on August 25, 2013
In 1954 two-year old David disappears on a quiet Maryland street when his father, Sam, is briefly distracted. The kidnapping of young David shatters his small family - Sam, Maureen, and young son James. When baby Dylan joins the family soon after the kidnapping the family is already disconnected and cold. Ultimately abandoned by their parents the two young brothers must find a new way to survive. Their future won't be easy; they will face heartbreak, bullying, racism, suicide and the constant anguish of a broken family. Buried Treasure is an emotionally trying mystery and will draw the reader deep inside the heartache of the Paxton family. One of the most intense and realistic mysteries I have read, this book belongs on the to-read list of every mystery fan.
The pace of Buried Treasure starts out a little bit slow. The first three chapters are mostly used to set-up the plot, the characters and the complications to come. At times it can read a little tedious but please persist because once chapter four begins the story is intense. Once the story picks up it grabs hold of the readers' heart and it never lets go. There are times when the tragedy feels so real and so powerful that the reader can feel a strong personal connection to the grief. There are other times when Downs lightens the mood by delicately infusing slight humor and sensitivity. This is a novel about the bonds of family and trying to find a way to endure through even the most challenging of circumstances.
James and Dylan Paxton, the brothers, as well as the supporting characters were believable and authentic. James' torment over the kidnapping of his baby brother, his father's alcoholism and his mother's abandonment felt very genuine. Dylan, after being born into a shattered family, had only known hurt and pain. He always sought love and safety despite being tormented by social stigma and being cast as a social outcast. On a constant search for healing and identity, James struck out against the world and Dylan clung close to his older brother. The anguish that defines the characters of Buried Treasure consumes not only the characters, but the reader as well. It is impossible to read this novel and not connect, on a deeply emotional level, with this mysterious tragedy. It feels as though the only salvation for these brothers is to answer the questions, "What happened to David? Who kidnapped him? Why did it have to happen?" At the core of it all is a deep family secret and one man's suicide may be the answer to saving them all.
When James and Dylan finally come face-to-face with a terrible family secret, will they finally be able to heal, put the past behind them, and move on? Or will the enduring scars a family tragedy continue to collect victims? Buried Treasure provides the reader with lasting lessons of love and family, the bonds of brotherhood and faith as well as grief and healing. Downs writes with such emotion and sensitivity that it would be challenging to not bond deeply with his characters and novel. The ending of the novel is a riveting, and fitting, surprise. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Buried Treasure. It may leave you emotionally exhausted but definitely not disappointed.
Review by Ashley LaMar
Closed the Cover
on November 9, 2013
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."-- Leo Tolstoy, at beginning of Anna Karenina. The aphorism might have been written to describe Jack B. Downs' Buried Treasure. The Paxton family, Sam and Maureen and their two boys James and Dylan, share a profound unhappiness rooted in the disappearance of the boys' brother, David, when James was a tyke and before Dylan was born. The apparent kidnapping shatters Sam, but Maureen disappears. Occasional notes to the boys on their birthdays are the only evidence she is alive. Sam, unable to bear the family life without David and Maureen, leaves, too. Only when he returns and their neighbor kills himself do the pieces of the puzzle start to come together.
The story, except for the first chapter that details David's disappearance, is told entirely from the point of view of James, the teen-aged older brother, and Dylan, only eight years old when Sam returns to the family. The boys have turned to each other in the absence of their parents and form an unshakable bond. The buried treasure of the title is knowledge. The boys solve the mystery of what happened to David and make the agonized decision of whether to share it or leave it buried.
No one with a family can fail to be moved by the Paxtons' story. Each member, flawed and human, struggles to make the right decisions. When they succeed, the reader is warmed. When they fail, the reader's heart breaks along with theirs. And the reader ends up as the judge of each decision. Buried Treasure is a book to treasure.
--Tom Glenn, author of Friendly Casualties
on March 1, 2013
These characters were so easy for me to know because real life versions of every character live in my present and my past. The image of Dylan holding his rod like Lucas McCain's rifle jumped off the page. I have a nephew born in 2002 who, like Dylan, spends much of his free time fishing and oddly enough has collected nearly every episode of The Rifleman on DVD. And who didn't have a regular afternoon appointment with their friends to watch Gilligan's Island?
When a tragedy happens often there is one Maureen and most everyone else falls into the roles of Sam and James or Nana and Dylan. Some people runaway and some people stick around to clean-up the mess. It's hard for these opposite types of people to see the other point of view with out the objectivity of someone like Dylan's too-wise-for-her-years girlfriend.
For me the story dragged in the middle. That's likely because so much of the middle of the story belonged to James. And I don't have much sympathy for him. He acts tough but he's needs someone else to provide his strength and toughness. Read Buried Treasure. It's a great story!
on October 3, 2013
This is a interesting book that starts off with the premise of what happens to a family after the abduction of the child. This is what I thought would be the focus of the story, especially after what happened to Mr. Thompson, but it ended up taking a different route, focusing more on the two brothers that are left and their struggles with growing up and dealing with a father that has not been in their lives much. There wasn't anything necessarily wrong with this, but it would have been nice if we had more focusing on the aftermath of the kidnapping.
I have to admit I was disappointed in that, especially with the revelation of what really happened to the boys' mother and abducted brother. I had a kind of niggling feeling about it, but I hoped I was wrong. The author does have a nice writing style, so no complaints there. If the ending had been better, I would have given it 4 stars.
on March 17, 2013
As an eigth grader in Honors English 1, I found that "Buried Treasure" could be intriguing for both adults and teens. I think the racism and relationship content are neccessary to create a tone in the novel. These things are apparent in recent Young Adult books, as well as classics. For example, the racism is very apparent in classics like "Tom Sawyer" and "To Kill A Mockingbird", and it helps to remind the reader that they are in that time period and the characters do have those struggles as well. Also, I feel that the difficult vocabulary is very appropriate for Young Adults. As young adults, we should be more exposed to these words. All together, the book was very well writen. Unfortunately, I did not connect with the novel as much as I would like. I found it to be more like required reading for english class rather than a book I would read for personal enjoyment.
on March 28, 2013
What a great story! It took me about 3 or 4 chapters to get into the book, but once I was in, I was hooked. As a mother my heart went out to these poor boys, their lives destroyed by a horrible tragedy. My favorite character was James, he tried to come across as a tough kid who didn't care. His devotion to Dylan, Anne and eventually Sam was evident though. This book covered so many topics from loss, suicide, bullying, racism and love. Some of the chapters were hard to read with the racism, but it was true to the time and needed to be told. I really enjoyed the ending and the sign of a good book to me is that I'm left wanting more, which was the case with 'Buried Treasure'. Looking forward to your next book.
on March 6, 2013
A kidnapped baby, a drunken father, and a runaway mother leave a puzzle for two boys growing up in the sixties on Maryland's eastern shore. The older boy, James, is accused of theft and borrows a car to run away on a quest of his own; his younger brother must face the town bullies on his own. The story follows their adventures to a satisfying conclusion. Replete with warm descriptions of rural small town life and the eastern shore, the book is an enjoyable read with a gentle mystery.