A lovely, suitable for middle-grade readers, historic fiction from A.E. Hotchner is on the blog today, set in St. Louis in the midst of the depression.
The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom
A quick and enjoyable read, told from the perspective of twelve (near thirteen) year old Aaron Broom. He’s a big fan of mystery stories, and frequently refers to his heroes of Holmes, Poirot and Miss Marple, as his story progresses through an admittedly darker and more trying period. Aaron’s father’s business, like many in the time, has folded, and money is tight. Perhaps things could work out, but his mother is in a sanatorium for tubercular patients, and his father is currently being held as a material witness to a jewelry store heist and murder. Unfortunately, Aaron’s father WAS in the store, hoping to offload some watches and get some money for things like rent, food and life. He was unlucky enough to be shadowed into the store by the real culprit, but the police think it’s probable he was involved.
This leaves our protagonist in a pickle. The apartment is unavailable to him with his father in jail, there are people from child services looking to find him and put him in care, and he’s feeling responsible to keep the family’s car hidden from the repossession agents. All at twelve. Fortunately, aside from his determination and a clear way of sorting through information, he’s also got friends willing to help him “detectify”, and even with the scarcity of everything, and the grey cloud of the depression looming over everyone, the ability of Aaron to focus, keep moving and stay mostly positive in the face of overwhelming odds and with a bit of help from his friends is lovely.
Perfect for middle grade readers, to give a sense of Aaron and his friends, the unique problem-solving thought process and the moments where the realities of Depression-Era St. Louis feel both honest and intriguing, when seen from this perspective. It’s not a twisty-turny case, and there are some clues that fairly drop into his hands, but Aaron carefully sorts the pieces to find his answer, and gives a clever, if quick to read, story along the way.
Title: The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom
Author: A.E. Hotchner
Genre: Depression Era, Historical Fiction, Mystery Elements
Published by: Nan A. Talese
Published on: 10 July, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 4 Hours: 45 minutes
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A heartwarming amateur detective story set in Depression-Era St. Louis from beloved author A.E. Hotchner.
Street-savvy, almost-thirteen-year-old Aaron Broom is parking his father's car when he witnesses a robbery gone wrong in a jewelry store across the street. To Aaron's shock his father, a travelling watch salesman in the wrong place at the wrong time, is fingered as the prime suspect in the murder.
Despite seeing the real killer flee the scene, Aaron can't do much to help in the moment--no one will take a kid's word for it. Undaunted, Aaron enlists an unlikely band of friends and helpful adults to clear his father's name.
Aaron's unusual mission is complicated by the painful realities of the Depression: his father's longtime business folded, leaving the family in financial straits; his mother is in a sanatorium after a near-death experience with tuberculosis. So Aaron is forced to fend for himself while his father is held in wrongful custody: he ducks truant officers and nosy neighbors, landlords and social workers, and he bums meals from friends and relatives alike. In his ersatz search for justice, Aaron draws upon the resources of a world-weary paperboy, an aspiring teen journalist, a kindly lawyer, and neighborhood friend with a penchant for baking. And as they dig into the details of the case, these unconventional detectives reveal a cover-up that goes much deeper than a jewelry-store heist gone sour.
Through it all, Aaron's optimistic narration and plucky resourcefulness shine through. Hotchner's latest is a rollicking ride through St. Louis at its lowest, as seen through the eyes of his most lovable narrator to date.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.