Book Addicts: Boy's journey takes reader back to a complicated time

July 21, 2013 

  • 'BADLANDS: A COLLECTION OF STORIES' by Thomas Biel (Montana native); Three Towers Press ($14.95)

Badlands takes us back to Middle America in the 1960s, when the Vietnam War permeated our culture and shaped our nation. Tom Biel takes us on a journey viewed through the eyes of a teenage boy, Matthew Davis, and his friends during a tumultuous time in our country's history. He also shows us a friendship between Matt and his best friend, Idaho Wells, that is second to none.

My review: Biel wrote a collection of interwoven short stories that captivated and sucked me in. Each time one of his stories ended, I wanted to know what was next for Matt, Idaho and the people in this small town. I loved the relationship between Matt and Idaho - a true bond; the two spent their teen years driving cars too fast, experimenting with drugs and getting into trouble.

I was so intrigued by how Biel portrayed Matt's father - as he lost his faith in God while still a minister - and the various relationships the boys had with girls who lived in town. There was Monica the stalker, Mary the fun one and of course Gertie, who taught them most about life and death. They all affected Matt's teen years and his relationships with others in town.

The stories are fast-paced, enjoyable and heartfelt as Matt takes you through his life in this first-person narrative. There were times I laughed out loud and other times I cried.

My rating: I highly recommend this collection of stories that bring you back to a time when the world was changing - as were the lives of these teenage boys.

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