The Boys of San Joaquin
Small-town California in 1951 is the setting for this young adult novel. Written with a strong eye to the “get-the-boys-reading” movement, hero Paulo is twelve and doesn’t like girls.
Paulo and his deaf cousin, Billy, are treasure hunting. The church collection money has disappeared, and they’d like to find it. This is an amusing adventure story where everything ends happily ever after, and Paulo and Billy learn quite a bit on their way to finding and returning the money to Monsignor. There are very few fifties historical details, just the odd mention of a coke bottle and the names of cars. The author concentrates on setting the story in a very chauvinistic Italian-American family where boys could do anything and girls could not.
There is a notable list of characters to meet, not least Paulo’s large family, his mother’s Italian relatives and his quieter Appalachian father’s relatives. The cover comparisons to Mark Twain don’t quite hold up (all that hype never does – why do publishers insist on using it?) but it is a ripping good yarn for boys to enjoy. Ages 9-12.