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Trueblue Book Review: R.B.Bailey Jr “The Old School”

R.B.Bailey Jr “The Old School “ is the story of the Murray’s, a close knit yet somewhat dysfunctional farming family who live near the town of Pineville, ________ (the “blank” is intentional in this case). We are never told where Pineville is, and perhaps that is for the best, as Pineville is a place which could stand in for any number of towns and small farming communities throughout the United States during the rough and ready years of the late 1930’s. Although predominantly told from the third person perspective, this is the tale of John, the eldest and most adventurous of the three Murray children.

The narrative beings with the school year coming to a close. Enthralled by the prospect of summer, John and his two siblings are struck by a desire to build a clubhouse. Nothing fancy, just a place where they can let their imaginations run free. And in the light of the idealism which is often attributed to farm life, the simple act of building a clubhouse should not have been seen as any hardship at all. These ‘idilic’ feelings colour the thoughts of the Murray children as well; or at least they did, until they run John into the bad books of their quick tempered and controlling father who already has plans for his children’s free time in the coming days, weeks, and months. Plans which, I might add, don’t include the building of a clubhouse, or much of anything that could in any way be considered fun for children.

All in all, I really enjoyed the story (and it speaks highly of the authors skill as a writer) that I could easily hear the voices of his characters in my head and readily differentiate between them as the plot progressed. Not to spoil anything, but I give Bailey Jr. a lot of credit for putting enough of a twist on the traditional “coming of age” genre/mechanic to make me want to learn more about the Murray’s and their lives beyond the end of this particular work. If I were to criticize anything, it would be that the author runs into problems with sentence fragments, and on occasional his choice of words left me thinking that he may have used the wrong tense.

On the Road to The Old School

However, with that being said, I did enjoy my time with “The Old School” and I can’t say enough about R.B.Bailey Jr’s ability to weave a tale that highlights the incredible durability of a child’s optimism in the light of some fairly terrible, ongoing and unexpected circumstances. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a period piece that touches some on old themes in an interesting and heartfelt way, this just might be the the short story for you.