I picked this book up at a used-book store, not knowing anything about it. I read it in one night and it was beautiful. I see a number of reviews that criticize the lack of "plot," but I found that in the book's favor. The book starts with Jim's 10th birthday and covers a year of his life in a small, rural North Carolina town in the 1930s. Jim's father died of heart failure a week before Jim was born and he is being raised on a farm by his mother and her three brothers. It's true. No much happens. But the things that do give Jim glimpses into the bigger world. It's the writing that made this book shine for me. "During the night something like aa miracle happened: Jim's age grew a digit. He was nine years old when he went to sleep, but ten years old when he woke up. The extra number had weight, like a muscle, and Jim hefted it like a prize. The uncles' ages each contained two numbers, and now Jim's age contained two numbers as well." "Mama was tall and handsome; her neck was long and white. Although she was not yet 30 years old, she wore a long, black skirt that had belonged to her mother. The skirt did not make her seem older, but rather made the people in the room around her feel odd, as if they had wandered into an old photograph, and did not know how to behave. On days Mama wore her long clothes, Jim didn't let the screen door slam." My 7-year-old son isn't quite ready for this book (or maybe I'm not ready for him to be confronted with some of the things in it), but I imagine in the next year or two. From a 10-year-old's perspective, race, marriage, death, modernization, bravery, loyalty, and meanness are some of issues perceived and sometimes grasped. I'm glad I read it w/o any preconceptions. I think the book suffers from being over-sold, as so often happens with notable books. You start comparing a book to "To Kill A Mockingbird" and you're going to get some backlash. But I definitely think this is a book with staying power.