Monday, February 6, 2012

Ugly to Start With by John Michael Cummings

Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away.

Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.

Ugly to Start With punctuates the exuberant highs, bewildering midpoints, and painful lows of growing up, and affirms that adolescent dreams and desires are often fulfilled in surprising ways.

Reviewer: QueenBee
This book of short stories tells of a teenage boy living in a small town in America.
Each story introduces us to a scene at different points in his life as he gives his point of view about something, someone, or anything that he feels like about his life. We learn about his passion for art, his love life, while also learning about his family, friends and why the collection was named.

I have to give this book 3.5 stars and I have to say I've never enjoyed a collection of short stories so much. It doesn’t cut any slack and goes for the full punch using the language and characteristics of a typical teenager boy.

Publisher: West Virginia University Press


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