Rosie’s #BookReview Of #ComingOfAge Mystery THE MILK WAGON by Michael Hewes

The Milk WagonThe Milk Wagon by Michael Hewes

4 stars

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.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

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.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of Dual Time Line Saga Set In The American Deep South. LITTLE TEA by @cfullerton3

Little TeaLittle Tea by Claire Fullerton

4.5 stars

Little Tea is a dual time line saga set in the American Deep South. Three school friends reunite for a long weekend; Renny invited Celia to help Ava who was having doubts about her marriage. They spent their time at Renny’s lake house and alternated between advising Ava and remembering their teenage years from the 1980s. Sometimes they dipped into moments of light-hearted comedy, and these were always fun.

While the friends were growing up, Celia Wakefield’s family owned a cotton farm near Memphis. Celia’s best friend was Little Tea, the daughter of the farm manager and his wife who was the family housekeeper. The deep rooted racial prejudices in the South were still strong for some and sadly this linked to a family tragedy, and since that time Celia never fully resolved her feelings about it.

This book pulled me straight into the setting with beautifully descriptive writing which had me placing myself right next to the characters and seeing, hearing and smelling the scenery. The dialogue was full of Southern language which suited this story and helped to make this feel like a full three dimensional experience.

I liked Little Tea; she was such a wise character, full of deep rooted superstition one moment, yet still determined to leave the inhibiting South behind and make something of her life. I also enjoyed all the banter between her and Celia; their childhood friendship was a delight.

There are a couple of twists and turns on the way to the denouement and although I guessed the ending, I wasn’t ready to believe it; I wanted just a little more explanation about how events led to the final reveal.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy
One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.
For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.
As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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