“ Sometimes a son is exactly like his father. Other times a son seems to have nothing in common with his father except for the same name. Eleven-year-old William Smyth, Jr., AKA Boy Smyth is embarrassed by his father. Why does his pa make the sign of the cross at the big stone at the gate to their farmhouse where he had carved words from the book of Jeremiah? And why does Pa argue with the townspeople that the James-Younger Gang members are just thieves when most everyone else in town considers them heroes?
THE YOUNGER DAYS, a MG/Tween historical novella by Author Mike Hays, set in 1874, ten years after the end of the Civil War, is a story of secrets and truth, mistakes and forgiveness. When two riders, one of them badly wounded, show up at the Smyth’s farmhouse one evening, Boy Smyth’s courage and faith in his father are severely tested. His mother also has a surprise or two for her son. When family secrets are revealed, will they bring the Smyth family closer together, or will they split them apart?
The author has written a story that will appeal to history lovers (like me), as well as to fathers and sons that may see each other in a new way, the way Boy and Pa do when the truth is finally revealed. And don’t forget Ma. She’s a spunky woman who gives us a look at the courage of a woman in the 1800s, willing to risk her life for her family. I don’t know what grades study the 1800s and Civil War, but school libraries and classrooms should have copies of THE YOUNGER DAYS to supplement their lessons on the time period. Of course, your own private library needs a copy too. A nice addition to historical literature, blending fiction and history.