First of all, I would like to thank Josh McClary himself for sending me a copy of his book! I'm sorry it took me so long to read it! Chance Murphy and the Battle of Morganville, (367 pgs, Kedzie Press) is a book in which I can relate! It's about a boy growing up in the midwest in 1986!
In the summer of 1986, Chance Murphy was living in Morganville, Indiana with his mother and his mentally handicapped older sister, Sabby. His parents are divorced and his father lives with his old Vietnam buddy, Pete, in an apartment over The Murphy. The Murphy is the local movie theater, and Chance and his sister went weekly to spend time with their father, but also to partake of "Monday Movie Madness", a tradition in the town of Morganville.
Chance is not your average 13-year-old. He has dreams of grandeur. His grandfather died during WWII while fighting the Germans. He wanted to be soldier too, but an accident when he was little involving his best friend Dan and a BB gun put an end to that dream quickly. He has the normal problems that any kid has at that age, and yet they always seem bigger to Chance. He lives across the street from his mortal enemy Otto Manheim (the dirty "Hun"). His best friend Dan lives next door with his perfect (at least to the outside world) family. When Dan gets home cooked breakfast consisting of eggs and whole hog sausage, Chance is forced to endure bran flakes and a mom that works all the time. And his sister Sabby is sweet and he loves her, but sometimes it's hard dealing with her handicap.
I really enjoyed this book. It's hard not to like Chance and feel sorry for him, although he has a lot of anger issues. In fact, he has a lot of issues period. He's got a mouth on him that needs a good bar of soap, and a temper that is hard for him to control. But through it all, Chance has a good heart. He really WANTS to be a better person, he just can't quite get there. But I think that's what being a 13-year-old is all about. Trying to become the person you will eventually grow up to be. And Chance has a lot of growing to do.
One of the best things about this book is all the pop culture references. When Chance is DYING to have Laser tag under the Christmas tree that year, it brought me back in time to my brother wanting the same thing!! From Top Gun and The Breakfast Club to Coca-Cola Shirts and Guess? Jean jackets, I was definitely transported back to the my days in jr. high and high school! Isn't that really the fun of books? 4/5