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Posted November 14, 2010
First impressions can be deceiving. The first chapter of Murray Tillman's Meet Me on the Paisley Roof is the ultimate turn-off. Six solid pages of a manure fight between three teenage boys isn't exactly an appealing introduction to 1956 Georgia. However, Tillman's nostalgic look at small town life is redeemed through the likable trio of Trussell Jones and brothers Cassidy and Ronnie Childs. Thankfully, Tillman doesn't dabble in sentimentality. Instead, he paints a realistic picture of adolescence where, more often than not, adults fail to live up to their assigned roles.
When Trussell's father dies, he is left in the care of his stepmother, Loretta. Saying the two don't see eye-to-eye is putting it mildly. Loretta feels Trussell is an ungrateful lout whose sole purpose in life is to cause her grief. While Trussell feels adrift with no one to turn to, when Loretta, for all intents and purposes, gives up on him. All she provides are the bare essentials of food, clothing and shelter, and an occasional note on the kitchen table. Things get so bad that Loretta even brings a gun into the house to "protect" herself from a boy who means her no bodily harm.
The Childs brothers on the other hand are witnessing firsthand the deterioration of their parents' marriage. With their alcoholic father spending the greater part of the week on the road, they come to realize that the stability in their lives no longer exists. As the eldest, Cassidy is contemplating moving with their father to another town, while Ronnie seeks a way to cope with his feeling of abandonment.
While dealing with serious subject matter in an era that bespeaks Ozzie and Harriet perfection, Tillman infuses the book with an abundance of humor to keep the tone from becoming dark and introspective. They are, still after all, boys and a series of hijinks and pranks ensue from hot-wiring Loretta's car to "borrowing" a gang member's motorcycle. They even manage to unknowingly kidnap an intoxicated solider, trample to death a panic-stricken monkey and dress in drag to sneak into the hospital.
But being hot-blooded American males, the opposite sex is a frequent topic of discussion. Trussell, after harboring a lifelong crush on Ellen Harmond, finally acts on his feelings when teased into submission by Cassidy and Ronnie. Hilarity ensues. While late for church, Trussell ends up getting dressed in the backseat of an older girl's convertible while flying through the streets of downtown Columbus. A sight Ellen just happens to take in from the backseat of her parents' car. When the two finally start to make an emotional connection, Ellen comes across a nude picture of herself in Trussell's garage that Ronnie drew for his friend's birthday. Nothing in Trussell's courtship of Ellen comes without mishap, but to Ellen's credit she refuses to give up on him.
The heart and soul of Tillman's writing comes through, when he shows his young characters actively making decisions that will affect the outcome of their lives. They are not passive players in a world controlled by adults. Instead, they are forced to deal with mature issues at a tender age. Through their trials and tribulations, what they come to understand is that regardless of the adults in their lives, they at least have one another.
Posted December 9, 2009
I really enjoyed reading this book. The main characters were teenage boys and many of the things they did made me recall some of the crazy things I did when I was a teenager. It made me laugh out loud while I was reading. I would feel comfortable letting my daughter read this, and she is 10. The only thing I did not like about this book is the description on the back cover. After reading the description I expected Trussell and his friends to play some crazy pranks on his step-mother. I saw her as obsessed with Queen Victoria but did not see how she thought she was spiritually connected. I felt this book was realistic and I enjoyed the ending. I have not read other books like this, so I cannot compare it to other ones. After reading this book, I will buy more books written by Murray Tillman.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 23, 2009
Trussel is sixteen and his stepmother will not allow him to drive. He's also madly in love with Ellen and hates that he can't drive her around. Trussel has a small problem though, he's being pursued by a gang of motorcycle riders. How will this teenager cope with the obstacles thrown at him?
Teenage life is hard enough, but poor Trussel has more to deal with than most. This is a book about life, love and growing up.