Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Charlatan's Boy, by Jonathan Rogers

The Charlatan's Boy: A NovelFor as long as he can remember, Grady has been with Floyd.  They are traveling showmen, mostly relying on their feechie show.  It is all Grady knows of life, no knowledge of his parents or his origin.  When the feechie business gets too slow, Grady and Floyd try a number of different types of shows, but nothing ever works out.  Floyd gets the idea to start a feechie scare, so they can resume the feechie show.  The outcome of the endeavor will change Grady's life.

What an amazing story this turned out to be.  Not a lot of true storytellers exist in modern literature, in terms of real fairy tale type stories.  Rogers is a true find.  He takes southern folklore and spins it into a tale that never has you doubting for a moment that the people, places, and actions actually could have existed long ago.  I absolutely loved the character of Grady, and my heart hurt from him more than once during my reading of this book.  His whole life, he feels unwanted, unloved, and ugly.  And all he wants is a feeling of belonging, who among us has not felt the same at one point?

I liked that the book was written with vernacular words and phonetic spellings.  At first it took some getting used to, but once you get in the rhythm, it feels natural.  For it to have proper grammar and spelling would have just seemed wrong.  The book is excellent for young adult readers, and while it is by a Christian publisher, it is not overly religious, just merely age appropriate, with family friendly themes.

It seems as if Grady's story will continue in another book, which I truly hope happens and I have an opportunity to read it.  This was a very sweet book, and I highly recommend it.

A review copy of this book was provided courtesy of the publisher.