The Side-Yard Superhero by Rick D. Niece
Book One in the Trilogy, Life in DeGraff: An Automythography
Finished: Apr. 3, 2009
First Published: Mar. 1, 2009
Reason for Reading: Sent to me by the book's publicist for review purposes
Calls at 12:36 a.m. are seldom good news.
Comments: First of all, I'll admit I'm a sucker for early 20th century boyhood memoirs. No idea why, seeing as I'm a girl but there you have it. This book tells snippets of the author's life living in DeGraff, Ohio and small former steel mill town during the 1950s and '60s. The book does go in chronological order though there is no general plot rather single episodes or remembrances pulled from his life. What makes this book different from any of the others is Rick's best friend. Bernie, is his name. An older boy, a teenager actually to Rick's nine years when they first meet, who has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound. Bernie doesn't talk very well and his arms and legs are always twitching but Rick can tell what he says, waits for him to get it all out and quickly becomes unaware of Bernie's quirks. Rick and Bernie did a lot of special things together, special for Bernie as he got to experience things he never would have otherwise, and special for Rick as he grew up learning the joys of life through the eyes of one who was overjoyed with the simple things in life.
I found the book well-written, in a simplistic straight forward way, like listening to the man himself reminiscing. Interspersed throughout the book are a number of poems which I quite enjoyed, and I am so not a poetry person. While the story of the author's friendship with Bernie is the focal point of the book, not every chapter involved him as Rick also described other events in his life. An eccentric cast of neighbours rounds out the book, such as Fern Burdette who only wore a bra from the waist up and Frank Tully the man who appeared to be a professional attendee, he was at every function that ever went on in town. A very quaint, enjoyable story. There are no famous, rich or celebrities in these pages; just plain ol' down to earth good folks. And that is the pleasure of the book; the enjoyment of the good old days when people didn't even lock the doors to their homes. If you like small town stories or boyhood memoirs, you'll like this one. Recommended.