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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Up Harvey's Creek by Karl L. Stewart is a mesmerizing, absorbing story of family, war, and a young boy’s struggle to make sense of life when his family becomes “wobbly.” Stuart Lee Roy Carter is young, just eleven, and he has been increasingly aware that something is wrong with his father, a veteran of four years combat in WWII. He gets erratic, tells them that kids are only to be seen not heard. The young boy wants his family back and he wants things to be normal for all of them: himself, Dad and Mom and Sissy — a sweet family in which no one was called by their real name. Follow him as he explores the post-war West Virginia forests and streams. But can he find what he needs to fix what is broken in his family?
The story line is simple, but the voice and tone set this narrative apart. I have never read anything like this, poignantly arresting, delightful in its humor, and colorful in the atmosphere it evokes. It’s simply terrific! The story is told in different voices and in the first person narrative. The use of the present tense is masterful and it adds a sense of urgency, engaging readers in a story that feels like it is unfolding before their eyes. The author captures emotions in ways that are subtle, allowing readers to see through the hearts of the characters. You’ll enjoy the brooding of the youngster, caught in a dilemma. His worry over his family is genuine and the emotion is built around his sense of helplessness when faced with this challenge.
Family dynamics are expertly explored. From the very beginning the somewhat humorous voice of the protagonist’s mother when he drops out of school, without telling the mother anyway, and decides to pack his beat-up suitcase and join the war arrests the reader and from that moment on, there is no slowing down. Up Harvey’s Creek is an engrossing read that explores the theme of war and the effect it has on a simple family. Can heroes who have served in the war ever be the same again? Here is a question that is explored in this book; a novel that explores post traumatic stress syndrome and the unrelenting pull of family bonds.