An Historical Romance, 1973
by John Barnes
Brief Summary: Karl Shoemaker is a troubled kid. Or that’s what his teachers have always thought and so every year he is sent to the school’s group therapy sessions, the self-named Madman Underground. But this year, he’s going to be different. He’s going to be normal. No more Madman, no more therapy sessions and maybe a ticket out of Lightsburg, Ohio.
Kell’s Chatty Review: This book is a behemoth, standing at about 530 pages and I would argue that 85% of it is exposition, background and dialogue. I had major problems with getting into it and even when I did, I still had to push myself a bit.
Historical Romance: I will say, it’s a brilliant look at the early 70s, down to hairstyles and political statements. It’s also an interesting look at how therapy and mental illness was (or was not, depending on how you look at it) handled and managed. Also, if you’re from Ohio, it feels like its happening in your backyard because of all the cities, towns, rivers, etc. that are used throughout.
Friendship: The heart of the story, for me, was the strength and importance of friendships and how those friendships can become the family you didn’t know you needed.
But I Would be Lying: If I said I loved it. To be honest, it’s still too soon after reading it to really know if I liked it. It was definitely interesting and all the characters were written wonderfully, but it’s just not my cup of tea if you will. Which, really, is fine. That’s the benefit of reading from a list made by other people: you branch out to things you wouldn’t have read otherwise. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t.
What I most wanted to do after reading this book: Hug my mom.
Where this book came from: The library.