“The people he was talking to, all around me, had lost everything, their houses, their jobs, their cars, I mean everything just like we did, and yet here they all were, having to live under the ramp of a bridge in dirty shacks, their bellies as empty as mine, huddled together, feeling good from listening to FDR, just like me, more of us no better of than we were when he got elected but when he says it’s all getting better we believe him, and no one in this group leaves or boos when he says things are a little better today than they were two months ago. We applaud.”
A story set in depression era St. Louis, young Aaron Broom was instructed to watch the car while his dad tried to make a watch sale at J&J Jewelers. What he didn’t expect was a man to follow his father inside and rob the place and shoot an employee on his way out. Now Aaron’s father is in police custody, his mother is in a sanitarium, CPS is after him, the police have locked up his rooms at the boarding house, and all Aaron has is some change and a car he can’t drive. A clever and plucky kid, Aaron quickly realizes that the only way out of this is for him to figure out who robbed the jewelry store, freeing his father from suspicion. Trading favors and making new friends, Aaron starts to unravel a much bigger story than a simple robbery gone wrong.
This book was so charming. While you do get a Tom Sawyer vibe (this is Missouri after all), it was clever and well written story. I was enchanted by Aaron and his resourcefulness, tenacity, and his willingness to right wrongs and help others even when he himself is in dire need of assistance. Every character he came in contact with was dynamic and Also I love the “I’ve been there” feeling whenever I am reading anything. Even set in a time prior to even my grandparent’s moving to St. Louis, I could still conjure up the locations mentioned just as easily as if I were to get in my car and drive past them today.
“I felt real love in that room. Luck, detectifying, and especially the helping hands of strangers had gotten me over the hot coals of those mean times, strangers who are now true friends.”
I really didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did, I thought it would be an easy read that qualified for a bingo square and that would be that. But it was such a hopeful story, written about a time when most people had lost everything—especially hope. It gave me the warm fuzzies for sure.
I would definitely recommend this book. I also feel like it would be a great book for kids to read as they learn about the Great Depression in school, it has so many jumping off points for relevant topics that could be dug into deeper and really give insight to the time period.
Why I picked this book for the “home” bingo square:
“Forest Park was my second home, or maybe I should say my first because when you’ve lived all of you in a one-room scruffy place like we did at the Westgate, that smells old and sour—well, the park with its tennis courts, ball fields, basketball hoops, art museum, Muny opera, terrific zoo, fountains, all that stuff is pretty much like rescuing you from drowning.”
I was born and raised in this town and currently I live less than 3 miles from Forest Park. I’m there most weeknights these days. It’s home.