RIVER SEASON, the author's debut novel, is set in the small, sleepy town of Archer City, Texas in 1966. Archer City is described as one of those towns where everyone is known by their profession: Coot the barber, etc. Typical of small town, rural America, there is not a lot to do when you're a kid, too young to drive, the dilemma that thirteen year old, Jim, faces. He has recovered nicely from the loss of his alcoholic father in a car accident, a few years before and enjoys spending time with his friends.
Like his friends, Gary and Charles who have also lost their fathers to death or abandonment, Jim plays for the Little League Baseball team and enjoys the outdoors, especially fishing along the banks of the Little Wichita River. It is during one of those fishing trips that young Jim meets Sam Washington, an African American, former Negro League baseball player for the Kansas City Monarchs. As the two strike up a conversation, a friendship begins to form and Jim begins to look upon Sam for "fatherly" advice about life. Of course, a friendship between a White teen and an older Black man in the 1960s would become the subject of racially motivated questions, but the light of friendship and life burned brighter.
With a water tower hangouts, Bigfoot fears in Northeast Texas, young love and teenage antics, RIVER SEASON has something for everyone and allows the reader to recapture a few moments from a simpler time.
Best part of story, including ending:
The author's storytelling was brilliant throughout this book. While I do not know if this story was loosely based on the author's own experiences in Archer City, the story was believable enough to convince anyone that the story did happen in 1960s rural Texas. I hated the racial tension in the story, but will give the author credit for treading lightly and giving the reader just enough without causing undue pain or anger over the era that hand.
Best scene in story:
The scenes where Jim and Sam discuss Sam's Negro League ball playing and Jim's Little League games are touching and were personal to me as a family friend of mine played for the Kansas City Monarchs in real life and it was easy for me to think of him and how those stories could have just as well been my friend's own.
Opinion about the main character:
The character of Jim was your typical American teen of the 1960s. He was a bit of a rebel and reminded me of some "children of the 1960s" family members. His endearing nature with a touch of rebellion spoke volumes to growing up in rural America and the struggle for achieving independence.