Friday, July 27, 2012

Guest Review: Paper Moon, Joe David Brown

This review is by my friend McKenzie.
To this day, I don’t know whether Long Boy was my father or not.  That sounds right peculiar, I know.  But it was on account of my mama being—well, fast and all.  Miss Katie Lou Bishop, who was Mama’s very best friend, told me that Mama always used to laugh and say that any one of three men could be my daddy, but if I was real fortunate I’d never find out which.

Paper Moon is one of those books that is so old (copyright 1971) and obscure that you don’t know why you picked it off of the shelf in the first place—but once you’re finished with it you realize that it ought to have become a classic by now and you start wondering why more people haven’t read it or even heard of it.  As demonstrated by the above excerpt, the style is wry and humorous, but actually quite intelligent. Joe David Brown writes from the point of view of a little girl named Addie Pray, who travels the country with her caretaker/big brother/possible father “Long Boy”—he’s a con artist.  And a pretty successful one at that.  Addie helps him “do business” in all of the towns that they visit and, using her wit and sharp thinking, is able to get him out of a few sticky situations with the law.

Addie is all that you could hope for in a character.  At the beginning of the book she is eleven, by the end she’s going on thirteen, so her age is pretty relatable.  She never went to school, so her dialogue’s a bit “backwoods” at times, but she’s got much more experience in the ways of the world than most girls her age.  She’s seen it all, the good and the bad, and isn’t afraid to put her opinion on all of it boldly out there.  She’s also good for a laugh, because, as hard-edged as her sense of humor is, it’s a wonderful one.

This was a wonderful book, and I was thoroughly enjoying it—until about three quarters of the way through.  There, it bottomed out and hit a slow, rough patch, as, unfortunately, a lot of books do.  Brown keeps writing on and on about Addie and Long Boy’s adventures in the wide world of trickery and deception—it’s great fun to read about at first, but after almost a year (in book time) of this you start to think, Okay, I get it…let’s move on now.  You have to wade through the dry part there.  But once you do, it gets EXCELLENT! Again because of an awesome plot twist and keeps you reading until the last page.

Read Paper Moon:
-          If you’re yearning for a kick-*** female character
-          If you enjoy quirky historical fiction
-          If you need a humorous book that’s not, um, dumb

240 pages (with tiny font), 4.75 stars (lost .25 stars for the “dry” patch).

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