Cover Image: The Boys Who Woke Up Early

The Boys Who Woke Up Early

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Member Reviews

The story of Stony Shelor and his friend Jack takes place in a rural southern town in the early 60s. Both friends are fascinated both with playing detective and with guns and they start hanging around the police station, hoping to solve their own case soon. But what seems like kids playing cops and robbers is the real thing here, and Stony and Jack get in trouble more often than not, facing moonshiners, racial tensions and corrupt citizens. I enjoyed watching Stony and Jack's transition from teenagers into adulthood, their path paved with making new friends (as well as foes) and some serious lifetime experiences.
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Unfortunately I didn’t love this one as much as I was hoping to. I liked the idea behind it and the storyline, but it fell flat for me. I can see why some people love this one, but it just wasn’t for me.
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*Many thanks to A.D. Hopkins, Imbrifex Books and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
I do not read too many books about teenagers as the age gap between them and me is too wide, however, I was intrigued by the summary of this book. The State of Virginia, close to West Virginia, late 1950s, early 1960s, a small town of (Jubal) Early, teenagers who want to play the role of detectives and racial tensions - all these ingredients are suberb for a good story. The specifics of life in a provincial town in that period are well-depicted, especially the 'equal but separate' rules that applied to economic and political issues, the incredibly easy access to guns and the racial divide. I never lived then and there, but while reading, the place, the people and the problems seemed very real.
Stony Shelar and Jack Necomb, the main characters, are observant, adventerous, industrious and with a sense of humour, which I appreciated a lot.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read and review this book. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It takes place in the rural hills of Virginia, in a time when Jim Crow laws and prejudice was the law of the land. Two boys, looking for excitement and the thrill of acting like adults, try their hand at some detective work and helping the police get things done where it's needed. Things get real pretty quickly, and the reader gets to see the racial injustices through the eyes of the boys just when they're becoming men. It's contrast to the adults in the area who have grown up in this world, and have resigned themselves to a certain way that things are done, was interesting to the characters as well as the reader. The characters are likable and I found myself cheering their personal growth and chiding their falls into trouble. This book was a timely read, a glimpse into another region of the county and the unique challenges that different areas face.
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Jack and Stony want to be Private Detectives, so the boys start to hand around the local police station hoping to help out on some "assignments" but things get serious when they find themselves faced with the Klu Klux Klan.

Such a short summary does not do this book justice, but I fear that to go any deeper might give away spoilers. This book is a coming of age story unlike so many others entwining historical fiction with adventure and youth. Hopkins' writing is exceptional; the characters, setting and plot pulled me in from the very beginning and the literary nerd in me was only too happy to think over the discussion points.
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An interesting addition to the shelf of YA books that deal with racism. Set during the Eisenhower years, this book offers a new character sure to charm audiences, an intriguing mystery, and a sweet coming of age tale.
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I really enjoyed this in-depth narrative of life in 1960 rural Virginia. Great for teens and adults alike, I was hooked straightaway.
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I admit that coming of age novels have a certain appeal to me. This title is one that does not disappoint.

For an adult looking in, Stony appears to be headed for a life of trouble. Then he meets the new kid, Jack, and starts an adventure that includes spending a lot of time at the county sheriff's office. Thankfully, not behind bars! 

Aside from watching Stony and Jack learn from their adventures, you also get a better sense of how life was in rural Virginia during the Jim Crow years. A time when many embraced the Klu Klux Clan and feared what would happen if segregation went away and blacks voted on a regular basis.

Tipping my proverbial hat to Mr. Hopkins who does a wonderful job with his characters and painting the scenes they are in.
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As someone who has lived in the south for over two decades, I can say there is a feeling of undeniable realism interlaced throughout the fictional story and characters of The Boys Who Woke Up Early. For a debut novel, the book is very well-written and it is very easy to become absorbed into Hopkins writing. His style is simultaneously unique and familiar, making the story and characters all the more relatable. Stony and Jack had a believable friendship and both had strong character arcs that mirrored each other. Hopkins manages to make them both flawed characters that the reader is still able to root for. Being set in the American South during the Civil Rights Movement, the story's theme is primarily race and racism. Despite, the story taking place in the past, the commentary on racism still fells relevant for modern times. Moments of tension and humor are interspersed throughout the book, which serve as ideals balances for each other, although this does occasionally result in some pacing problems. On the whole, the book is a sweet coming of age story with set in a particularly harrowing time in American history making it an exciting and thoughtful read.
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The Boys Who Woke Up Early is a well-written books that manages to seamlessly integrate moments of humor, tension, and a complex exploration of race. The book has a feeling of being fully formed in the author's mind and as a result, the story and the characters feel realistic. The book manages to explore racism in the American South in the 1960s, while also managing to  comment on the modern day persistence of the issue. Stony and Jack were compelling characters whose relationship felt authentic and it was nice to see them be able to learn from each other and grow. Overall, the book is an ideal combination of social commentary and a coming of age tale .
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I enjoyed this book as a piece of fictional social history of 1950s America - growing up with racial segregation, KKK, guns and a lot more freedom. Although I found some of the stories shocking, the background of the author seems to assure the reader that they are based, at least in part, on factual events. Not an era I'd like to go back and live in but one which the author brings alive with his writing - of characters, scenery and scene setting. Recommended.
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This is a great book!  So different from what I usually read but surprisingly very enjoyable.  Set in the late 1950's and early 1960.  This was the time of desegregation, racism and the KKK.  The author did the time period justice and also the Southern expressions.  It is about an interesting time in our country's history and would be a very good read for young people today.
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This book was so good. It came across as more of an autobiography or memoir which made it all the more interesting. The story is a coming of age of sorts that takes place in a small town during the turbulent times of the 1960s and the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement and rising of the KKK in that small town, as told through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Stony, as he relates the tales and shenanigans of he and his friend Jack. I can't wait to see what this author gets up to in his next book. Great Debut!
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"The Boys Who Woke Up Early" is a thoroughly enjoyable and somewhat surprising novel, Set in the years of segregation and the KKK, we meet several interesting characters. It's a well written and entertaining story worth reading.
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I very much enjoyed reading this book. The writing was very good, and the story as well. Will recommend to others.
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This book was a spectacular depiction of small town America during a tough time. The main character "Stony" recalls on his experience in high school in the 1960's while also trying to deal with the "evil" cascading over the small town of Early: The Klu Klux Klan. Stony and his new best friend Jack manage to survive a massive amount of shootouts, fights, and even a revolt against the ever present KKK. And it somehow all started with Jack becoming a 'private detective', unbelievably at the age of 17! 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story had a good flow to it without being too heavy on one specific event. The characters were very likable (or you hated them, but they were meant to be hated) and they all could be very different in their own way without being drowned out by specific 'standards' set for characters during this period of time. I find that books written in this time period have a hard time approaching race since it is such a hot topic, but this book did it well without stepping over any boundaries or sugar-coating anything. 

The style the author uses is very easy to grasp, nothing was hidden from you but you did have to have a good sense of humor to get the jokes he wrote into the novel. I was skeptical at first to read something like this because of how certain ideas were going to be presented but I think the author did a very good job with reminding the reader that this was happening in a small town in the 1960's and not in todays time. 

Overall, I thought this book was amazing. I loved the characters, the intense climatic moments, and I thought the story was excellent. I was rooting for my favorite characters the whole time! I would like to rate this book on a wider scale because I feel like a rating out of 5 isn't a great depiction of how a novel is. 

My rating for this would be 7.5/10.
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All my thanks to NetGalley and Imbrifex Books, because here is one of my favorite books of 2019!
The immersive story-telling is amazing and I still hear my heart pounding when I think of some of the early (!) passages of this novel as well as the laters.
With economy and greatness A.D Hopkins gives us a well-documented, gripping, realistic, hell of of story about racisme, prejudices, growing up (althought it is not, in my opinion, the main theme) and more. Guns, law enforcement, police work, segregation, teenage in a small town of Virginia in late 50's/early 60's can give, I supposed, a good canvas for a good story, but the narrative and the talent of the author give it its greatness.
We laugh some times, we are scared some other times. Scared for the characters that we learned to appreciate, for the events to escalate, for innocence to be crushed.
And there is suspens too in this novel, a lot! Told you, my heart was pounding hard, my breath was heavy...
I love how Hopkins settled his story, step by step, events by events, slowly, with efficiency ; never letting us know where we are truly going, and never losing track of where he wants the story to go. Genius.
Please, read the book, learn a great deal, have a good time and spread the knowledge.
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Great historical fiction — peppered with the kind of details that say someone actually lived this story (or something close to it).  Most historical fiction can’t help but overlay modern sensibilities on the story, but this one feels completely embedded in the time — from action to dialogue to thoughts.
Thomas Jackson “Stony” Shelor is a high school junior in small town Early, Virginia.  His first-person account describes his experiences from Sept. 1959 through Sept. 1960 — working “for free” in the sheriff’s office, getting into trouble with town bullies, hankering after a girl who knows her own mind, and befriending the somewhat crazy new kid in town.  This is all amidst much bigger events: massive black voter registration and the resulting Klan rallies; the (very) slowly shifting attitudes of whites towards blacks; and the fine line a good sheriff has to tread to work with corrupt elected officials and still try to keep a town lawful and safe.

It reads like good journalism — no surprise as this is the debut novel of a 46-year veteran journalist.  I had forgotten how much I like a real story — not overburdened by excess angst, overly bold characters, and well-defined narrative arcs that bear little resemblance to reality.

I love the way the clean writing describes both the action and our narrator’s perceptions, reactions, and evolving opinions. He does some (to me) stupid things but we are treated to a real understanding of how his worldview and principles led him to those actions. Billed as a YA novel (the main character is 17), for me it was much more a documentation of a particular time and place as experienced by someone growing up in that time period.  A nice juxtaposition of history and personal development.

As an aside, lots of interesting details about things like learning to shoot and care for firearms, working at a sheriff’s office, a garage or an apple orchard.  Just enough detail to be interesting to someone (like me) that isn’t actually interested in those topics, but never enough to be boring.  Also, fascinating attitudes among the largely working class members of the town — they don’t map to any definitions of “liberal” or “conservative” today — just people using their own minds as to the right way to live and treat people.
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Thank you to Imbrefex books for supplying me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I picked up this book. I'm from Alabama, which means I've read <i>To Kill a Mockingbird</i> at least a dozen times, watched the movie a few dozen more, and have read more about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks than kids in other states have probably even heard of. Even though racial politics in the South seem to be as backwards as everyone else likes to say they are, there's no denying that they are obsessed with their own mistakes. Civil rights in Alabama is stuck in the 20th century. Honestly, I thought this book was just going to be another story just like the rest I've read, too stuck in the past to say anything interesting at all. 

There is something about the way Hopkins writes, however, that makes this book stand out amongst all the others set around the same time. Maybe it's because of the way the narrative approaches time at an angle, things not <i>quite</i> chronological-- We hear, in the middle of events, from future versions of Stony and his friends, who set to rights their own misconceived notions before the reader even has time to judge them for it. Or maybe, it has something to do with the fact that Stony is unlike any protagonist I've seen in a book of this subject matter. 

Honestly, most of the time a book about civil rights is written with a white protagonist and a white author, things have a chance of coming out... odd. Hopkins could have fallen into this trap very easily, with Stony either being the white saviour or the dyed-in-the-wool racist who lets a good woman steer him right. But he's not. Stony is, instead, like a thousand white boys I've met before, and a thousand I'm sure I'll meet again. While Mary Lou certainly inspires Stony's change of heart, its own conscience and common sense that has him going up against the racists in his town. More than that, though, Hopkins points out how corruption and racism in the police force is something that effects <b>everyone</b>, not just those who are already vulnerable. 

While it's not a perfect book (I found the way Stony described the women in his life.... distasteful), it was written in a way where I could not help but emphasize with the stunningly real and flawed characters (especially Roosevelt). It was so intriguing. Despite the fact that the plot was not so much an arc as much as a slow meander through a year in Stony's life, it still clung to me, had me thinking about the fallout of Stony and Jack's latest misadventure in the car, at work, in the shower. 

It's a read that sticks with you.
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I found this to be a very enjoyable book, even though the topics covered - racism, the South in the 60's, corruption, gun usage in the US - wouldn't necessarily be classed as 'enjoyable'. A.D. Hopkins builds the world of Stony as a teenage boy in a small American town (Early), and his descriptions of living in a small town certainly ring true. Stony and Jack, a newcomer to the town, start volunteering at the local Sheriffs department in a bid to become private detectives themselves, and through their experiences we see the racist and violent undercurrents of Early. The story moves along at a slow pace, but this really helps to depict a community on the brink of change, and the author keeps you hooked. As the boys' adventures become more dangerous, they learn more about how their world works, how to overcome prejudices, and when to pick their battles. 

I would definitely recommend this book, particularly for fans of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'., and I look forward to reading more of A.D. Hopkins' work in the future. 

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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