145 of 156 people found the following review helpful
"She went off in his head and his heart like a firecracker on the 4th of July.",
This review is from: Heading Out to Wonderful (Hardcover)
This is a story born in the Virginia Valley, in 1948 Brownsburg, a small town where patriotic, God-fearing people live quietly, raise their families, treasure the traditions that define them. A stranger, Charlie Beale, arrives in town. After roaming the well-kept streets and driving through the countryside, Charlie decides this is the place to stop. Hired in the butcher shop on Main Street, Charlie is welcomed into his boss's family, Will Haislett, his wife, Alma, their five-year-old son, Sam. Charlie's tale begins here, as customers flock to the shop to purchase Charlie's skillful work, the precise cuts of meat, the friendly greeting. Charlie's soul expands with the welcome as he settles in, buys a home the Haisletts help him furnish, young Sam a regular companion on excursions to the country to fish or to the field to play ball. America has woken up from its wartime nightmare, ready for the future.
The town's wealthiest man, Harrison Boatwright "Boaty" Glass, gets the usual respect accorded the wealthy, large in body but small in spirit, with the meanness of a man who has never been liked. Boaty has purchased a country wife, a beautiful creature of no education who has formed an identity from movie magazines and the flickering films of Hollywood, Sylvan Glass hungry for that imagined life with its glamorous clothes and happy endings. The town is content enough with Charlie's presence and his friendship with the Haisletts, with Sam, who accompanies him everywhere that summer with Charlie's new puppy, Jackie Robinson. But when Charlie sets eyes on Sylvan, though he doesn't show it, his heart is consumed, aflame with a slow burning love for this perfect female. In a place where everything happens with predictable regularity, a spark ignites, one fed in secret, witnessed only by a boy and a dog- but one with far-reaching repercussions.
Goolrick captures the simple synchronicity of the forbidden in prose grounded in the moral fabric of the country, in the rhythms of 1948 Brownsburg, where blacks live separately and know their place, where courtesy and manners are unassailable and where fire and brimstone preachers dictate the righteous actions of Christians. Secrets are kept- until they aren't, though most folks feel kindly towards Charlie Beale, Sam's "Beebo" from their first meeting. With Sam as the silent witness, Goolrick leaves us to ponder our feelings about Charlie's decisions and the wisdom of trusting your heart to a girl who hasn't experienced enough of the world to appreciate the consequences of her actions. Like the executioner's blade, tragedy hovers, secrets whispered from one to another. Goolrick literally brought me to tears with the depth of his insight, the moments of horror- and of grace- in a novel that is irrevocably, distinctly American. Luan Gaines/2012.
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Initial post: Jun 12, 2012 8:34:51 AM PDT
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