Come on in and set a spell in Riverton, Ohio. Grab a soda pop and pull up a chair as you listen to Squid Flower Pants narrate the story of her summer of youth. A self-proclaimed “red-blooded American vagabond-wannabe,” Squid and her sister Amanda enjoy the escapades and misadventures of a magical childhood summer with their friends. Whether they’re saving a possum from being “deep-sixed,” experiencing the joy of the carnival, or ruminating on the possibility of ghosts haunting the nearby Indian Mounds, one thing is for certain: the days are long and the fun never ends.
For those seeking a nostalgic trip back to the halcyon days of youth or for those still enjoying those happy golden years, “Wild Grapes” by Will Zink is sure to satisfy. The old-fashioned atmosphere of the story belies its contemporary setting, evoking sentimental nostalgia with which every reader can identify. “Wild Grapes” reads like a diary as Squid’s first-person account presents the musings of a 12-year-old girl coming of age and beginning to feel the first pangs of young womanhood. Parts of her story are hyperbolized and made into tall tales, which are more humorous given the Beverly Hillbillies dialect that continues throughout. The only obvious drawback is the general lack of conflict and the use of “‘em” (abbreviated from “them”) for “‘im” (him), as well as a few spelling errors. By and large, however, “Wild Grapes” is a sweetly innocent yet at times startlingly clear depiction of a small-town country childhood on the cusp of maturity.
I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.