28 February 2009

When the Whistle Blows; Fran Cannon Slayton

When the Whistle Blows When the Whistle Blows by Fran Slayton

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Told through a series of stories about All Hallow's Eve in Rowlesburg WV, James Cannon's life appears to be set: he'll leave school and start working in the railyard, just like his older brothers, his father, his uncles and his forebears. By the time he's a senior in high school, though, diesel engines have replaced steam ones, and the railyard has closed down.

The other constant in his life is The Society, a mysterious group that he longs to join. In the last section, he's inducted - it's his father's funeral, and he's helping Do Unto His Father. Problem is, the stories the other members are telling seem like they're about someone completely different, and James wishes he had stories to tell. Then he realizes that the past years, the past All Hallow's Eves, have been his stories.

I liked this - the simplicity of the stories and the relationships between James, his brothers, his father and his friends all worked. And the historical fiction part wasn't heavy handed, just a natural part of a tale that wouldn't have been easy to tell any other way.

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