Matt is a 15-year-old teenager living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Having grown up in the city, he is looking forward to spending the summer months hanging out with his friends and trying to impress the local girls. When his dad informs him that he has arranged for Matt to spend the summer working on a farm in the nearby town of Alva, Matt does his best to change his dad’s mind. After all, Matt has never seen a farm; he knows nothing about horses, tractors, or anything farm-related. As he steps off the Greyhound bus and into the dusty and ramshackle filling station that doubles as a bus stop, he’s sure he’s entered another world. Little does he know the secrets being disguised as a small farming town.
Henry Pierce is an aging bachelor; he is also the farmer with whom Matt will be spending the summer. His farmhouse and ranch are several miles from the town. It soon becomes obvious to Matt that Mr. Pierce is not a rich man by any means. The farmhouse is run down and in need of a real cleaning. Meals consist of canned beans and bread with the occasional trip into town to eat at Lana’s Café. The final indignity for Matt comes when he learns he’ll be sharing an attic bedroom with his boss. “It’s cooler up here,” says Mr. Pierce. “No need for fans.”
Farmer Pierce is a gentle old soul who minds his own business, tends to his farm, and keeps company with a whiskey bottle. But behind the façade of a poor, drunken farmer lies the story of an intriguing life. Once a decorated MP assigned to Camp Alva – the largest Nazi POW camp in the United States – Henry Pierce recounts for Matt his younger years and how he met, won, and lost the one woman who was the love of his life.
Matt is fascinated by Mr. Pierce’s history and soon understands why Mr. Pierce is in danger of losing his farm and everything he’s worked for to the man who seems to own the whole town. Along with some help from a couple of new friends, Matt is determined to find a way to help his boss.
A pretty girl named Carol, a gum-chewing waitress named Lana, a teenaged Negro boy named Sam, and a handful of other colorful characters like Sergeant Swim at Camp Alva help to move the story forward.
This is a fine debut novel by author Dave Eagleston. There are, however, several stumbling blocks that a good editor would have caught and fixed. Overall a solid piece of historical fiction based in truth and nicely documented. My rating of 3.5 might have been 4 stars if not for the grammar and typos. I look forward to more from this new voice in historical fiction.
Rating: 3.5 Stars