Pub Date 03 Mar 2019
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The gravy train hasn’t stopped in the hollers of western Virginia for more than thirty years when Stony Shelor starts his junior year at Jubal Early High. Class divides and racism are still the hardened norms as the Eisenhower years draw to a close. Violence lies coiled under the calm surface, ready to strike at any time.
On the high school front, the cool boys are taking their wardrobe and music cues from hip TV private dick Peter Gunn, and Dobie Gillis is teaching them how to hit on pretty girls. There’s no help for Stony on the horizon, though. Mary Lou Martin is the girl of his dreams, and she hardly knows Stony exists. In addition, Stony can’t seem to stay out of juvenile court and just may end up in reform school. A long, difficult year stretches out in front of him when a new boy arrives in town.Likeable bullshit artist Jack Newcomb dresses like Peter Gunn, uses moves like Dobie Gillis, and plays pretty good jazz clarinet.
Jack draws Stony into his fantasy of being a private detective, and the two boys start hanging around the county sheriff’s office. Accepted as sources of amusement and free labor, the aspiring gumshoes land their first case after the district attorney’s house is burglarized. Later, the boys hatch an ingenious scheme to help the deputies raid an illegal speakeasy and brothel. All the intrigue feels like fun and games to Jack and Stony until a gunfight with a hillbilly boy almost gets them killed. The stakes rise even higher when the boys find themselves facing off against the Ku Klux Klan.
A Note From the Publisher
There are some reading group discussion questions at the back of the e-book
Equipped with the grace of a fencer and the attentiveness of a journalist, A.D. Hopkins drops us into the world of teenager Stony Shelor, a blossoming humanist, would-be-detective, and hopeful gallant. Read it for the pleasure of this boy’s ideas, for the perfectly pitched turn-of-phrase, for the reminder that in every community, there are those fighting for the right and the true.—Laura McBride, author of We Are Called to Rise and In the Midnight Room.
The Boys Who Woke Up Early might be A.D. Hopkins' first novel, but it feels like it has always been with us; it's a novel filled with heart and grace and a surging sense of wonder, while also lined with brutality and violence. A rare combination, for sure, but A.D. Hopkins is a rare writer.—Tod Goldberg, author of Gangsterland and Gangster Nation.
A rollicking coming-of-age tale, shining a light on the not too distant past of the Jim Crow South. With his storyteller’s ear and reporter’s attention to detail, A.D. Hopkins has created poignant characters and a plotline to match. His lines convey the sadness and shortness of life—the sorrows brought on by family members lost to typical feuds and grudges whose origins no one can remember. In Hopkins’ hands, it all comes to life."—Sally Denton, author of The Bluegrass Conspiracy: An Inside Story of Power, Greed, Drugs & Murder
A coming-of-age story that doesn’t pull its punches. Set in the waning years of the Jim Crow era in rural Virginia, it’s a narrative in which fists fly, guns go off and the Ku Klux Klan is hiding in plain sight. A.D. Hopkins convincingly re-creates the time and place, and his characters are as natural as the creative turns of phrase he captures from his native South.—Geoff Schumacher, National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement and author of Sun, Sin & Suburbia: The History of Modern Las Vegas
The Boys Who Woke Up Early is all at once a coming of age novel, an action story, and a tale of social transformation of a southern small town confronting the early civil rights movement...Fast cars, moonshine, gunplay, and the Ku Klux Klan all influence life in the town of Early in the late 1950s, tucked away in the mountains of Appalachia. A. D. Hopkins is a versatile storyteller. The America of today is sorely in need of this reminder, this reawakening of our minds and hearts."—Douglas Unger, author of Leaving the Land and Voices from Silence.
March 5th to April 12th West Coast Tour
* Las Vegas, Nevada
* Carson City, Nevada
* Los Angeles, California
* Phoenix, Arizona
August 4th to August 24th -- Virginia and North Carolina
* Meadows of Dan, Virginia
* Roanoke, Virginia
* Richmond, Virginia
* Arlington, Virginia
* Durham, North Carolina
* Winston-Salem, North Carolina
* Charleston, West Virginia