The Evolution of a Slingshot
John Dean Williamsen
Book: The Evolution of a Slingshot
Author: John Dean Williamsen
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: Approximate 272 pages
Beautifully written emotional read.
THE EVOLUTION OF A SLINGSHOT by JOHN DEAN WILLIAMSEN is a coming of age novel of Jake Tierney. This work of historical fiction takes us back to the summer of 1946. We meet the 11-year-old Jake with his friends Lexie and Chips as they are hanging out on the flat roof of the shed just being boys. In those first moments of the book, we get a feel for the different personalities of these three boys. Through Mr. Williamsen's writing, we also get a feel for this time and place in history.
I got so caught up in reading Mr. Williamsen's novel, THE EVOLUTION OF A SLINGSHOT, that I forgot I was reading. It was as though I were sitting in a chair watching a movie in my head and becoming more and more emotionally involved with the character of Jake, pushing and cheering him on as well as uttering words of encouragement when needed. Throughout this book the reader becomes privy to the relationships that Jake has with friends and family, with love and great loss. We learn early on that Jake's father was murdered and how that devastating event affects the family dynamic. Times are hard for this poverty-stricken family, but are made even more difficult with the mother turning to alcohol and unpleasant men for comfort in the loss. Ray, Jake's older brother, is forced to grow up and become the man of the house much too soon. The relationship between Ray and Jake is a complicated one. While the love between them is evident, there are times that Ray is so consumed with finding out who murdered their father that Jake feels at times abandoned by his brother.
If, as a reader, you enjoy character driven novels, you have got to pick this book up. Reading this novel brought back memories of my father telling me stories from his youth. The characters were that real to me. The character of Jake touched my heart so deeply that when I had to put the book down because it was too late to read any longer, I dreamed of him and what life had in store for him.
This book speaks to living in poverty and overcoming that, unspeakable horrors perpetrated on people and the bravery it takes to help them, the love and loss between a boy and his family and friends, coming to a crossroad in a young boy's life and having to make a very adult decision at that one moment in time that will follow him through his life forever. But most of all, surviving all of these obstacles with beauty and grace. This was a beautifully written novel, and I highly recommend it.
The Evolution of a Slingshot is a story of a boy whose life is often as raw and unfettered as the times. He lives in a world of tarpaper shacks and basement homes, of dusty roads and outhouses, of poverty and optimism, of the American Dream and justice snubbed.
In the late 1940s, while the country is recovering from the Great Depression and World War II, an eleven-year-old boy is simply trying to survive his small town world in Illinois. The great tragedy in his life has been the mysterious murder of his father, which has turned his world upside-down. The fear that grows out of his loss leads him to cling to his brother, Ray, as a substitute father figure. Unfortunately, Ray is only four years older, and while seeking retribution for his father’s death, he is also struggling with his family’s expectations of his filling his father’s shoes.
After watching the way Ray handles the situation when Jake is attacked on his paper route, Jake recognizes how self-destructive his brother’s anger can be, and he is afraid for him. This strengthens Jake’s resolve to handle his problems himself. The slingshot, which was once a toy to Jake, has now become his only means of defense. His life continues to offer him opportunities to choose how to deal with confrontations and the loss of others close to him.
His struggle to make the right choices transforms his relationship with his slingshot. It is this evolving relationship that mirrors the changes in Jake’s inner psychology—the changes which mold his personality and shape his ideas of right and wrong. When he finds himself at the decisive moment where he has the means to avenge the wrongs his family has suffered, what will his decision be? His future now hinges on the choices he makes.