Lately I’ve made a point of reading self published books. It began when an old friend wondered what I thought of a self-published book she’d read. Since then my reading of self-published fiction has snowballed into a strange sort of adventure. It’s been interesting, not the least of which has been my gut reaction to evaluate self-published fiction on a different scale than traditionally published books. Rather like rating players in an amateur hockey game; They can be good, the top of their league, but they don’t match the professional skills of a Habs, Bruin or Red Wing. Last week however, that all changed. I discovered an amateur that deserves to be playing with the pros.
Thirteen-year-old Myles Walsh likes to tell stories. He tells them so well and so often that when he discovers a dead body hidden near the river no one believes him. Especially once the body mysteriously disappears. Now, if Myles wants to play in the most important hockey game of his life, he is going to have to earn is way back into his parents’ good graces. That means staying out of trouble. And that’s not easy to do when someone out there is looking for him.
Looking for a novel to read on a transatlantic flight, I bought the e-book version of THE DEAD MAN STORY. I could not put it down. I read all through the night until the plane landed in Amsterdam. If the next book in the series is as entertaining as this one, Conley is positioning himself to be ‘the Jack Gantos’ for this next generation of readers.
THE DEAD MAN’S STORY is a great little get-them-reading and keep-them-reading book for boys, right smack in the middle of that demographic when boys (statistically) stop reading: Middle Grade.
There were a few loose ends in the narrative, which I would normally see as an issue. But in this instance I saw them as a stepping-stone for a student discussion about the novel and felt they were well placed. If you’re looking for a book to whet the reading appetite of a Middle Grade boy who’s interest in books is flagging, I recommend The Dead Man Story. Martey Conley nailed this novel!