Happy Saturday Morning, Friends!
This morning I am enjoying a hot cup of coffee while watching the geese fly in. My (sick) kitty is on my lap, and my husband is sitting by me. Life. Is. Good.  It is on this crisp Fall morning that I am pleased to bring you yet another book review of a great book: Back to Bataan by Jerome Charyn.

New York City, 1943. War is raging in Europe and the Pacific, while Jack Dalton is stuck attending Dutch Masters Day School. What Jack really wants is to enlist in the army, to fight...
Everything changes when Coco, Jack's "fiancee," throws him over for one of his classmates. Jack sees red and does something drastic. Then he runs away. Hiding out in a nearby park, Jack joins ranks with a group of vagrants and is soon under the sway of a man called the Leader, an ex-convict who is as articulate and charismatic as he is dangerous. The Leader turns Jack's world upside down. To put things right, Jack must prove himself a braver soldier than he ever imagined.
Strive, determination, honesty, loyalty and love. These are just few of the characteristics that author Jerome Charyn placed in the main character, Jack Dalton. The main character, that is only eleven years old. The main character, that grew up way too fast. Jerome Charyn did something in this book that made me fall in love with it right away, which was his starting paragraph. The author sets up the maturity of this eleven year old to prepare the reader that this boy is no ordinary boy. This boy is going to be extraordinary.  “It was late. I’d had a big fight with Mama. She said the Army wouldn’t take a soldier who was eleven (pg.  7).” It was right after this that you also found out that Jack has a ‘fiancĂ©e’ named Mauricette, they are in the middle of World War II, and his father died on the island of Bataan. All of these facts combined shaped Jack into the boy that he is. It is because of Mauricette (Coco) he started a fire and ran away, it is because of the war that his father died, and it is the death of his father that makes him seek out other means as a way to live.
I will just get down to the true grit that shapes this novel, The Leader. This is an unforgettable character and it is this man that shows Jack how to survive. In this man, Jack saw true friendship. It was this man that falsely accused Jack of being a traitor and threatened Jack into stealing. This was a very Jekyll and Hyde moment of the book because Jack struggles with ‘the Devil’ inside of himself as he searchers for his true identity. The fact that Jack, or Mr. Dalton as The Leader liked to call him, struggles with identity and who his really is at the tender age of eleven shows that life lessons can happen at any stage of life. By the end of the book, Jack has protected his mother, confessed to stealing, known what heartache is, and become a local hero through his thoughts and words. It was through all this that Jack stayed loyal to the one man that betrayed him. It was through all this that Jack never made it Back to Bataan and he realized that some goals in life will have to wait. They might be unachievable right now but never unreachable.
What made this book jump from good to great was the ending that brought it all together. In the first chapter, we listened  in on a telephone call  between Mauricette and Jack and how their love for each other is strong. The book ends with Mauricette calling Jack to express the same feelings. To me, this was a lesson in itself. With everything that happened between the beginning and the end, this showed me that humanity is still alive and present. That no matter what happens, life still goes on. No matter how hard times may get, there is hope for survival. I never knew what to expect turning the page or what path jack’s life was going to take, but throughout it all, Jack stayed true to himself. This book was admired to say the least and I would recommend it to young and old alike.
There you have it friends. If you are wondering what to read next, look no further.  Thank you to Nicole from Tribute Books for yet another great read. Want to know more about the author? Read on. Want to purchase the book to see what happened to Jack? Click on the links below!
I hope you all have a wonderful Saturday and I will talk to you soon!
Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”
New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”
Since 1964, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.
Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.
Purchase Back to Bataan here:
2 Responses
  1. Em, thanks for the awesome review. Glad that you're now a part of "Team Jerome" :)

  2. P.S. Hope your kitty is feeling better!

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