The Milk Wagon is a coming-of-age mystery set in Gulfport Mississippi during 1986.
High school friends Matt, Mark and Hop befriend new boy Nate Mayes, who recently arrived in this small town. I liked how much of the story was written around Matt’s 1980 Suburban car which they nicknamed the Milk Wagon; it became as much of a character in the book as the boys themselves. Alongside the story of the boys’ friendship is an FBI investigation in the area about a money laundering case being run by doctors and pharmacists.
Short easy to read chapters dot back and forth between the two parts and it isn’t too long before the narratives become linked and the tension of the story increases, reaching a grand finale with a good twist.
As soon as the author introduced us to the school friends the story drew me in, as their mannerisms, actions and dialogue all felt real; teenage talk about cars, girls and sport flew naturally from the pages. I was less convinced with the money laundering events; the characters involved were harder to comprehend and were less convincing than the teenagers. However, this may be because when the second storyline was introduced, at chapter four, I was already hooked by the teenagers and was mildly grumpy about the pause in their story and the introduction to lots more characters.
The money laundering tale did grow on me and by the end I was invested in tying up the mystery and solving the case. But my favourites will always be Matt, Mark, Hop and Natt; their final school reunion looked set to be a particular high point which I would have been happy to attend.
Overall, a story about high school friendships and how good friends will always try to be there for each other.
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THE MILK WAGON is a coming of age thriller about friendship, redemption, and how the ties made during high school can last a lifetime.
For Matt Frazier, Jason “Hop” Hopkins, and Mark Ragone, 1986 was the year that changed everything, and it was the year that everything changed.
It was the year Matt fell in love.
It was the year Mark started a band.
It was the year Hop actually, kind of, but not really got a girlfriend.
And it was the year Nate Mayes disappeared.
Matt, Hop and Mark have been friends since elementary school. They played ball together, they hung out together, and they somehow managed to work their way through the awkward years of junior high together. Now, they are finally starting to come into their own as they prepare to start eleventh grade, but on the first day of school, a new kid named Nate Mayes arrives, and with him, a secret. Once the boys learn the horrifying truth, they take it upon themselves to try and make it right, and in so doing, set in motion a chain of events that have unexpected and life-altering consequences for everyone.
The Milk Wagon was there through it all.