Boomers and Bullies
In The Death of Fernie: The Best Little Book Ever Written About Real Little Boys in the 1950s, critically acclaimed author Daniel Altieri has turned his attentions to something completely different - a foray into an East Coast childhood of the Eisenhower era. The Death of Fernie is a free-spirited tale with special resonance for the postwar generation, who grew up in that time of imagination and awakening. It's written mainly from the point of view of the boys, preadolescents in the scary post-grammar-school world. A tale of bullies and abuse, of rich flights of imagination and reflection, when phones dialed, there were three channels on TV, and flying saucers hovered everywhere.
It's 1958 in rural Connecticut, and three boys between 10 and 11 years old - Tommy (from a stable, "normal" family), Jose (Hispanic, Catholic), and Jimmy (underfed child of a poor, single, alcoholic mother, has a severely retarded sister) - have been pals since first grade. But it's September, and the safe, cozy innocence of elementary school is behind them. Now they must enter the scary, new world of junior high school. In their small New England mill town, every kid from whatever side of the tracks goes to this same big school: kids from green-lawned houses where mothers put clear plastic on the lampshades and carpets, kids from houses where dilapidated sofas and car parts clutter the sagging porches and sumac-overgrown yards - it doesn't matter; they all get tossed together in a survival-of-the-fittest way. It's a hard time for our three pals. And it's about to get harder.
Daniel Altieri is the coauthor of several international best sellers: The Court of the Lion, Iron Empress, and Shangri-La: The Return to the World of Lost Horizon.