Thursday, October 08, 2009
"The Blue Star" by Tony Earley is about small town America in the Forties. Jim Glass lives in Alicetown, North Carolina. The novel is charming. It's innocence is only the top layer of the novel. Like other people the people in this town are faced with important issues. Most importantly, the novel takes place during World War II. People talk about Pearl Harbor. Young men go off to fight on foreign soil. Some young men return to Alicetown. Some don't make it back home leaving their families to face insurmountable grief. Leaving some friends to face survivor's guilt.
There also is the feeling that there are two very separate cultures or communities in Alicetown. There are the people who live on the mountain. There are the people in the valley. Jim Glass falls in love with a girl who lives on the mountain. Chrissie is biracial. Her father is a Native American. Her mother is Caucasion. It's very interesting looking at how society has changed. In those days, Chrissie's father was called an Injun, Injun Joe. No one thought of using a politically correct term like "Native American."
Jim is innocent. When Chrissie tries to explain that she is different, Jim does not understand. To Jim, Chrissie is just a wonderful girl with beautiful long black hair. Dennis Deane is more worldly wise than his friend, Jim. When Dennis approaches the discussion, Jim says " Besides, so what if she is an Indian, or half an Indian or whatever you said." Buck Bucklee is a young man who lives on the mountain. He also is in love with Chrissie. I have a question mark about his "love" for Chrissie. Anyway, I would say he wants to make Chrissie his. He wants to possess her like a family possesses acreage. Buck Bucklee and his family are the epitome of imperfection in a small town.
Tony Earley's novel is about a town and the people becoming more knowledgeable about the unexpected situations in life. It's about the good and bad happenings in a small town. A three dimensional painting can not show only the light side. To make the painting realistic there are grey areas and near black areas. This is what I loved about the novel. It's a coming of age story that makes sense. It made me laugh at times because I could see myself. It made me cry because of unspeakeable emotional pain experienced by some of the people in the town. It is the kind of heart crushing moment a friend would not wish on their worse enemy. "The Blue Star" is a novel about all of our lives in one way or another in Anywhere, America.