3 out of 4 stars
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For 12-year-old Aaron Scott, there is more to life than meets the eye. Growing up as the youngest of five boys, he has always felt too short, slow, and young to keep up with his older brothers. But in his wildest imaginings, he is more than just a little brother; he is the bravest, most reliable, and most heroic man for whatever skill set the job at hand requires. In reality, his role-playing scenarios don't always work out as well as planned, but he and his best friends manage to have a summer of adventure in the dusty coal borough of Ashland, Pennsylvania.
Aaron has yet to realize that the seasons of life present the most demanding challenges of all. As his summer turns to fall and eventually to winter, he'll face transitions and changes that will impact the rest of his life. But just as the seasons never fail to change, spring will return with new hope for the boy who has become a young man.
The Fifth of Five is a well-written middle-grade adventure novel by A. P. Scott. As the first of five children, I picked this book with the hope of discovering an exciting adventure that would stir up my childhood memories. I am happy to announce that this book fulfilled my expectations and more! The Fifth of Five combines my favorite elements of the films The Sandlot and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The backyard adventures, confrontations with the local bully, development of family relationships, and vividly imagined missions make this book an engaging read that was hard to put down. It was fantastic to watch how Aaron and his friends turned the everyday locations of his hometown into the sites of a hostage situation, a Russian KGB base, and an African safari. When the pretending ended and the visions morphed into reality, the various outcomes and consequences were typically hilarious or emotionally impactful.
I loved how Aaron's stories evoked memories of the shenanigans and antics that my siblings and I got into while growing up. Like Aaron and his brothers, our age differences played into the dynamics of the games we imagined or our interactions with neighbor kids. I also loved how the individual chapters held their own standalone story that progressed alongside Aaron's 12th year. The book also featured many historical details about the coal industry that the author cleverly wove into the story. These facts added to the authenticity of the narrative and provided interesting information without hindering the flow of the novel.
There was nothing to dislike about the book's content. Unfortunately, there were quite a few minor proofreading errors throughout this 200-page book. While these errors did not hinder my enjoyment of the story, I found more than ten, which required a reduction in the rating. Therefore, I give The Fifth of Five three out of four stars.
While the author wrote this book to target an audience of boys age 10 to 17, I would recommend it to anyone who likes a nostalgic adventure story. Several chapters read like scenes from a first-person shooter game or a choose-your-own-adventure novel where the reader gets to jump right into the action from Aaron's perspective. The book also offers words of wisdom while delving into the complexities of dealing with tragedies and triumphs in life.
The Fifth of Five
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