Several months ago I saw Boys of Blur (N. D. Wilson) mentioned and I told myself to remember to look it up later. Naturally my mind didn’t save the information correctly so only recently did Boys of Blur make it to my to read pile.
Only it didn’t stay there. A few weeks ago we had a moment of deep despair. Our read aloud was finished the night before and I didn’t have anything planned. I took a moment to scan the shelves and decided to give Boys of Blur a go and see what happened. What happened was that we have a new author to add to our list of favorites.
Charlie Reynolds finds himself in the small town of Taper, Florida….land surrounded by swamps and sugar cane fields. What was suppose to be a short visit for a funeral turns into a longer stay as Charlie’s step-dad takes a temporary position as the high-school football coach. Life can be a bit more complicated than football.
Charlie finds a friend in a boy named Cotton. Cotton takes Charlie on an excursion into the swamps and sugar cane fields. What they find is more than a few rabbits to chase. There are chalk mounds, dead animals, an armored warrior, and monstrous creatures that seem to rise from the swamp. Charlie finds himself fighting for his life and for Cotton’s. Does Charlie have the strength and courage needed to go into the depths of the swamp?
“Your father made mistakes. We all do. But instead of working to set things right, he chose to protect those mistakes – he let them be. he even fed them, which made them so much worse. Mistakes don’t just hang on the wall like ugly pictures. Mistakes are seeds.’ He thumped his chest. “In here. They grow. They take over. You make a mistake, you gotta make it right. Dig that seed out.”
I love the depth of this book; the plot that was layered with several different aspects. N.D. Wilson understands that children are intelligent and can handle depth in their literature. While many would label this as a “boy’s book” (and I agree), it would be enjoyed by any reader who likes an exciting, adventurous read with fantasy added to the mix. The thoughts of dead, zombie like creatures might not sound appealing but Wilson tells a wonderful story of courage, strength, friendship, and sacrifice. Fathers are important and leave an impact; you have to decide if it will be for good. Good and evil exists; fight for the good. How you live is a choice; not always easy but always a choice. This is the depth; excellent depth to this story.
“Charlie Reynolds,” Mrs. Wisdom said. “Are you willing to die to save your friend?”
“He’s my cousin,” Charlie said, looking at Cotton. His throat was tightening. He raised his chin and exhaled slowly. “I’d rather die than not try.”
I will admit that I read this aloud to all of my children. I would not recommend this to everyone. We do lots of read alouds so all of my children are exposed to a wide range of literature. I am careful about what I read aloud but do not mind heavier books even with young ones joining us. My five year old and seven year old listened to this story (and enjoyed it) without any issues. I know some of the deeper content went over their heads and that is ok. They enjoyed the parts that they understood. My five year old asked for the “boys in the swamp” book every night. Boys of Blur would work well for ages 11 and up for reading independently.
So in the words of Cotton: “Read a book, yo.”