4 out of 4 stars
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My Only Sunshine by Lou Dischler is a strange childhood story. The story was centered around the nine-year-old Charlie Boone, who was living in Red Church, Louisiana, during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The crisis was at its height; the Russian missiles stationed in Cuba were likely to hit Charlie's hometown first in case of an attack. In such a chaotic time, little Charlie was busy trying to make sense of the world while his beloved horse Lunch Time was missing, his mother left him, and other people were constantly putting him and his family down because of his father’s crime. Charlie was a usual boy in an unusual time. The panic rooted in the crisis triggered a chain of incidents that changed his life forever.
The novel is absolutely crazy with so many unexpected turns. I like the funny incident in the bank when Charlie’s uncle and aunt - Dan and Lona - were trying to do something nasty but then encountered an unexpected bank robbery and ended up having even more than what they wished for, just to lose everything soon after. It is hilarious. The part where Charlie got himself into trouble is my favorite because of the coming-of-age elements within it. He was sent to a reform school and his real education starts there instead of the local school where people love to hate him. Charlie lives unintentionally and life still works out for him despite hardships and negative opinions. In this Lou Dischler’s story, luck is a key player who determines how life works. I have the feeling that Charlie was not actually living but observing life unfold on its own. Maybe that is why the book feels so effortless to me.
There was not anything I dislike in this novel, even though I have to honestly say that there is a gap in quality between Dan’s narratives and Charlie’s narratives. Charlie’s storyline is much better in terms of originality and humor. I find Dan’s story overly lengthy and even redundant in some parts. Other than that, this novel was well-crafted with a funny tone and some elements of wild absurdity. It subverted all my expectations. The plot was well-structured with extreme scenarios, which constantly keep readers on edge. Halfway through the novel, I didn’t even know what to expect anymore because everything was so wild. Nevertheless, the story played out perfectly fine and the climax was superb. The book seems professionally edited; I did not notice any errors.
I totally love this book. I would give it 4 out of 4 stars for all the reasons mentioned above. The novel is quite short with a comic theme; it could be a fun read for an afternoon.
Even though being a childhood story, I would recommend this book to adults only. Children and young adults are not the ideal readers for this novel because there are some elements of violence, sexual content, and profanities.
My Only Sunshine
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