Jackson Jones is in a tough spot. He is almost 14, and his father believes he can arrange a summer job for him. Unfortunately, that particular position would put him in daily contact with a classmate he’d rather not spend a lot of his vacation time with. Almost miraculously, his widowed neighbor approaches him with another offer that is as bizarre as it is fortuitous.
With this hook, first-time novelist Aaron Hawkins shapes a thoughtful, enjoyable and very believable story using the convincing voice of the young Jackson. Those of us who have done time as teenage boys will quickly recognize why Jackson chooses the paths that he does, even when it is obvious that he is setting himself up for trouble. All of the described thought processes are right on the mark for a typical American young man going through the physical and emotional development of his early teens, and it is just plain fun to relive the insanity.
The story is plain and simple, and although the conflicts are not complicated, they are certainly interesting, and work well to maintain reader interest during some of the slower sections. The ending is very well done, with all the loose ends cared for, and very minimal sappiness, which I greatly appreciated.