When Althea Leary abandons her nine-year-old son, Jasper, he's left on his uncle's farm with nothing but a change of clothes and a Bible.
It's 1952, and Jasper isn't allowed to ask questions or make a fuss. He's lucky to even have a home and must keep his mouth shut and his ears open to stay in his uncle's good graces. No one knows where his mother went or whether she's coming back. Desperate to see her again, he must take matters into his own hands. From the farm, he embarks on a treacherous search that will take him to the squalid hideaways of Detroit and back again, through tawdry taverns, peep shows, and gambling houses.
As he's drawn deeper into an adult world of corruption, scandal, and murder, Jasper uncovers the shocking past still chasing his mother - and now it's chasing him too.
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Very negative story full of yelling at poor Jasper
The character of Jasper is enjoyable to read about. However, almost every single one of the adults in the book is a horrible person. Even Jasper's dad and uncle spend a good deal of their time yelling at Jasper, about one thing or another. They often assume that he has done something bad, which he usually has not done,but as a result he has become a tortured, anxious, guilty nine-to-ten-year-old boy. The small community in which he lives is full of unhappy people, criminal actors, and in general people you could easily live without knowing for, possibly, ever. There is absolutely zero humor, some of which could have lightened up the relentless suffering and misery. Not a happy story, and with a plot that is dense, confusing, evil and not really worth keeping up with. Fun!
Mr. Daniels is OK, except that he is forced to yell a lot, and that is a very limiting way to have to narrate. Jasper and his cousin Wayne don't yell, but all of the adults do, repeatedly. There is a LOT of repetition in the book, not just the yelling. There is a LOT of bad behavior, people assaulting each other, mysterious (and not in a good way) drug dealing, prostitution, murder, and so forth. In that way the book is full of cliches. It is not at all easy to write something new in this genre, and the author tries very hard to do that. In her trying so hard, which you can see and feel, she fails. Again, there is no humor, and that would lighten up the material greatly. I could go on, but you get the picture.
Absolutely NOT. It is relentlessly miserable. Two hours of sitting through the misery, suffering, assaults, cruel people, violence towards all the characters including Jasper, etc. etc. Who among you would want to watch two hours of that? Would you actually want to see Jasper sexually assaulted by a bus driver who forces the boy's hand into his pants so that Jasper can feel the "monster" that is in there??? And then have him remember the trauma for the rest of the book? Ach. They couldn't pay me.
- Richard Delman