The Blue Star is a follow-up to a novel I stumbled upon in the library, Jim the Boy. Set in rural North Carolina in the years leading up to World War 2, it follows a high school senior Jim through his first loves. Earley's style is very minimalistic and his characters, while appearing to be simple country folk, are really complex.
A love story unfolds in The Blue Star which made it more engaging than Jim the Boy. A quote from the final page of the story has stuck with me - "This is what my life tastes like", Jim thinks as he says kisses his sweetheart goodbye.
This book would be great for a book club or discussion group - JtB had some questions to use a guide printed in the back, but I don't recall if Blue Star did. Still, it would be worth your time to compare notes and ideas on a sweet story.
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Love complicates his otherwise halcyon life, in the person of one Chrissie Steppe. We can't help whom we love, and Jim has made a big mistake by falling for Chrissie. She and her mother are in what amounts to indentured servitude up on the mountain, living on the property of the influential Bucklaws. Their son, Bucky, is in the Navy and expects that Chrissie will wait for him. She has nothing to say about it because she and her mother have nowhere to go if they are turned off Bucklaw's land because Chrissie has other ideas.
Earley's books are charming and evocative, calling back another time in this country when life was simpler, except in the realm of human emotions, which do not change with the times. He has a way of creating a time and place exactly as the people experiencing it would have felt, putting the reader in the picture. Finishing this book, the reader wonders what World War II and its aftermath will hold for Jim the boy, who is now a man. Perhaps Earley will tell us. --Valerie Ryan