By: Brian Meehl
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 2011
A very long time ago the amazing author, Mark Twain, left notes for a novel he wanted to pen in the margins of a copy of Huckleberry Finn, and this modern-day adventure is a tribute to those notes that a true literary genius left behind.
Billy Albright is sixteen years of age and has moved sixteen times since his birth. His mother is a religious ‘nut’ who travels from city to city, and town to small town, trying to find the best place to live and worship. They’ve had to leave towns quite suddenly throughout the years for various reasons including once when they were clearing a local Piggly Wiggly grocery store of ‘evil’ items (i.e. devil’s food cake, devil dogs, etc.) Mother was once part of the Jesus Brigade, where her group protested on a ‘riverboat’ trying to convince people that betting money was a sin. While there, Mom reformed a gambler and married him. This gambler immediately got a reverend’s license and began preaching. Unfortunately, Dad became well-known and began to speak all over the country in front of religious audiences, but ended up dead in the Arkansas River after a car accident.
Ever since, Billy has been raised by Mom where his life centers around Mom, Bible, Christ, and Homeschooling. But Billy wants with all his heart to attend normal school, deal with normal everyday issues, and make friends. Mom and Billy ride into the seventeenth town that they’ve lived in called Independence, Missouri. They are, hopefully, entering into a “non-sinning” world and Mom is intent on finding a good Christian church with good, solid people.
All Billy thinks about is growing up and leaving his mother’s harsh rules far behind. He wants nothing more than to be a professional mountain biker and thinks only of the future that he wishes would get here. As they settle in Independence, Billy runs across a gang of kids and finds himself up against a group who is anything but Christian, as well as receiving a mystery gift in the mail containing a fancy bible and a DVD.
Hiding the DVD from his Mom, Billy watches the odd movie and realizes that the message is from his father - a man who didn’t die in a car accident after all. As Billy steps into a car, the road trip that he goes on is a true journey of faith as he tries to track down his father, and find the inheritance that the DVD has promised is out there for him. Along the way, Billy meets a cast of characters including runaways, nudists, con artists, and more.
The author has done a good job offering a story of true self-discovery. Although the novel is a bit long in places, and here and there becomes a bit “over the top,” it is a good story that shows a “Huckleberry Finn” modern tale of adventure, fun, entertainment, and self-worth.
Quill Says: A learning experience for all readers that shows the world through a young man’s eyes; a young man who is growing up and finding his own way in the big, bad world.