Title: Thompson Road
Author: Scott Wyatt
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: PDF Advanced Review Copy from the Author
My rating: 4/5
Reading Challenge: A book set in high school
“A sweeping, coming of age romance set in the Pacific Northwest on the brink of WWII. Rejected by classmate and talented swing dancer Sally Springs, high school quarterback Raleigh Starr remains desperate to win her heart. While walking home on Thompson Road, he catches sight of Mona Garrison dancing at her bedroom window. He is mesmerized.
Determined to dazzle Sally, Raleigh convinces the shy sixteen year old to compete with him in a swing dance contest. After he is swept up in the war, Raleigh realizes too late what Mona has always known: that they are perfect for each other…but he is unaware of the terrible price she has paid for his attention. Thompson Road is a poignant, tender story that reminds us of the power of first love.”
A series of unfortunate events is how I can describe this novel for the two main characters: Raleigh and Mona. The novel is broken into several imperative years of coming of age and growth between both of the inhabitants of Thompson Road – the first time they met, high school, war times, post-war, and full adulthood. Each of which could be individual stories of their own. Along the way, I could feel the development each of the characters were going through, especially with the unthinkable challenges they faced. Toward the later stages of their story, there were so many times that I exclaimed words of doubt, fear, and anxiety as the punches kept on coming for Raleigh and Mona – a pair that unmistakably pulls sympathy as a major emotion out of us readers.
I do not claim to know about the vernacular during this time period, however there were conversations that seemed close to how we talk in the present. Besides this potential discrepancy, I felt transported to the Pacific Northwest, the county fair, the armed forces station, and of course Thompson Road which provide perfect stages for our characters in the building of their friendship and the potential for so much more. The time in the U.S. before, during, and after WWII adds to the stress and setbacks they both face because of the limitations (but realities) of communication, transportation, education, and diagnoses.
Although there is the feel of a common story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etc, I feel that Wyatt was able to break that mold and utilize a different approach – bringing in third person points of view on several characters, providing some back story and moments of clarity and aha! for the readers. Overall, a quick read that packs emotion and connection to humanity and injustices that may still be a reality. It made me think about what actions we take lead to for not just ourselves for others we did not think would be affected. Some values that I hold close are humility, loyalty, authenticity, and integrity – all of which I thought long and hard about after reading the thoughts, words, and actions of Thompson Road.
Read Thompson Road if you like the themes of:
- Coming of age
- Learning disabilities
- World War II