Micki Peluso, reviewer
Dog Bone Soup, A Boomer’s Journey
By Bette A. Stevens
Author Bette A. Stevens writes a debut novel taking place in the 1950s and 60s, filled with Americana and historical fiction. Referred to as ‘Boomers,’ the people of these decades set the pace and tenor of future generations.
Shawn Daniels might have been a typical boy in the ‘good old days’ had his father not been an abusive, wife beating drunk, spending his money on liquor, while allowing his family to live in poverty, lacking indoor plumbing and electricity. Still Shawn has dreams and fortitude enough to withstand the bullying by his peers, being called ‘white trash’ by his community, and is able to withstand all the obstacles thrown in his path. His brother, Willie, tends to be lazy and a dreamer, but still helps out when the family is starving, by chopping wood, and helping his mother manage the house and care for his younger sisters, Annie and Molly.
The author deftly flashes forward as the story opens. Shawn is preparing to head off to Army boot camp during the Vietnam War. Enlisting might keep him from being sent overseas and give him some job training. After a life of struggling, Shawn sees the light at the end of his personal tunnel. As he stays up with his Mum through the middle of the night, looking through old family pictures, his story unfolds.
This is a realistic charming, yet heartrending story reminiscent of ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ by Mark Twain. Author Stevens manages to portray this period of history with clarity and truth. Most amazingly her characters, while suffering more than today's civilization, enduring a myriad of harsh circumstances, there is little self-pity among them. If ever a people made lemonade from lemons, it was the boomers.
Amidst the hardship, including the nightly Dog Bone Soup, there are also times of adventure, playfulness and fun — as if Shawn and his generation are blessed with an innate ability to cope with daily setbacks; never losing hope and continually forging ahead aiming for better days.
Author Bette A. Stevens writes a book full of heart and wisdom, a book that YA/adult readers will treasure and cherish. This generation in particular needs to read the book to learn what hard life was like, giving them the skills to adapt to the problems of their own generation. Dog Bone Soup, A Boomer’s Journey is a journey that the reader wishes would never end.
Micki Peluso, author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang