Title: Jeeptown Sockhop
Author: John Harrigan
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: March 19, 2012
Summary: (From Amazon) The story of four teens who seek to bridge the racial and class gaps that splinter their gritty 1950s industrial town. It is narrated by altar boy Charlie, who lives in a sea of chaos marked by an alcoholic father, a brother at war in Korea, a town fractured by a violent strike at his father's workplace, and a trusted adult who sexually abuses him. In this sea of chaos, his one island of tenderness is a black gospel singer, Clarice, with whom he develops a deep attachment. After they are spotted sharing a kiss, Charlie gets punched out by one of her other admirers and she gets a beating from her father. To create a reason for being together, they start a dance band and organize a Sock Hop that will bring the town together. Can they pull it off?
Review: Set in the 1950s in the Midwest this story centers around a boy who is going through a lot. His brother is off to Korea, his dad’s union is on strike, and his best friend is black. All he really wants to do is play music with his friends, and show that an integrated band can work, but so much of life gets in the way.
It seems like I haven’t read a recent historical book in a while. So this was a great change from some of the other books I’ve been reading. Since it was a genre I don’t read a lot of, I was worried the story would be slow and it would take me a while. But this book caught me right away and I felt like it read at a great pace. I loved the setting, the time period and everything going on at that time. I really felt for Charlie, he is a character who is hard not to like. I could feel his anger for Mr. Jackson, and even though he wasn’t always sure about the details of the strike I really liked how he stood by his father. All the characters seemed very genuine and real. This book was sad, and happy, and sad again but I enjoyed it the whole way through.
I thought this was an interesting look at a different time of union strikes and how it really affected families back then. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a good down to earth book about normal kids growing up in the 50s. It reads pretty fast and I think it is a nice book to mix into a diverse to be read pile.
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