Excerpt from The Blue Star by Tony Earley, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Blue Star

By Tony Earley

The Blue Star

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

At the Top

Because they were seniors and had earned the right, Jim and his buddies stood on the small landing at the top of the school steps, squarely in front of the red double doors. Every student entering the building, boy or girl, had to go around them to get inside. The boys pretended not to notice that they were in everyone else’s way, and moved aside only when a teacher climbed the stairs. They had ruled Aliceville School for less than a month but now held this high ground more or less comfortably. The first few days of school, Jim had halfway expected some older boys to come along and tell them to get lost, but during the preceding three weeks, he had gradually come to appreciate that there were no older boys. He and his friends were it.

The school overlooked the town from atop a steep hill. Jim tilted his face slightly into the clear sunlight and tenderly considered the world below him. At the foot of the hill the houses and barns and sheds of Aliceville lay scattered around the town’s small tangle of streets. Near the center of town the uncles’ three tall houses stood shoulder to shoulder. (Jim lived with his mother and her oldest brother, Uncle Zeno, in the middle house. Uncle Coran and Uncle Al, who were twins, lived on either side.) Beyond the town itself, across the railroad track, the uncles’ corn and cotton crops filled the sandy bottoms all the way to their arable edges; beyond the fields the neatly tended rows unraveled into the thick gnarl of woods through which the river snaked. The corn, still richly green, stood taller than any man, and the dark cotton rows were speckled with dots of bright, emerging white. West of town the engine smoke of an approaching train climbed into the sky.

Jim could not see Uncle Zeno or Uncle Al in the fields, nor Uncle Coran in the store, but he knew they were there, the same way he knew that when the time came to pick cotton they would not ask him to skip school to help. Just as he wondered what his mother was doing, Mama came out the front door of Uncle Zeno’s house with a bucket and dipper and began watering the chrysanthemums blooming in the pots on the porch steps. She glanced at the orange bus from Lynn’s Mountain as it turned off the state highway and ground its way up the pitched drive. Jim was glad she didn’t look all the way up the hill toward the school. Had she seen him and waved, he not only would have been embarrassed, but he would also have been tempted to weep with some mysterious, nostalgic joy. The warm sunlight on his face seemed to remind him of something — but he couldn’t explain what — and some vague but pleasant longing filled his chest. Already he could sense the end of these good days rapidly approaching, like a mail train filled with unexpected news.

“Hey, Jim,” Buster Burnette said, “there’s your mama.”

Dennis Deane squinted as he looked down the hill. “What’s she doing?”

“Daggum, Dennis Deane,” Jim said. “You can’t see a lick, can you?”

“I don’t need to see,” Dennis Deane said. “I’ve got an extra eyeball.”

Everybody grinned, but nobody said anything. They all knew better.

Dennis Deane batted his eyes innocently. “Ain’t you going to ask me where it is?”

Jim shook his head. “Ain’t no way.”

“Cowards,” Dennis Deane sniffed. “The whole bunch of you.” He cleared his throat. “Now, where was I?”

“The secrets of women,” said Larry Lawter.

“Oh, yeah. Like I said, I know the secrets of women. I can make any female I want to fall in love with me.”

“Bull,” Buster said.

“I’m telling you,” Dennis Deane said. “I’m the Large Possum. The King of the Squirrels.”

Excerpted from The Blue Star by Tony Earley. Copyright © 2008 by Tony Earley. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...
  • Book Jacket: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    I feel like Gabrielle Zevin wrote this wonderful book, about a lonely New England bookstore owner ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin
  2.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois

All Discussions

Who Said...

Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.