Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: The Jealous Kind by James Lee Burke

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2520 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Aug. 30 2016)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English

Book Description

 From New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke—an atmospheric, coming-of-age story set in 1952 Texas, as the Korea War rages.

On its surface, life in Houston is as you would expect: drive-in restaurants, souped-up cars, jukeboxes, teenagers discovering their sexuality. But beneath the glitz and superficial normalcy, a class war has begun, and it is nothing like the conventional portrayal of the decade. Against this backdrop Aaron Holland Broussard discovers the poignancy of first novel and a world of violence he did not know existed.

When Aaron spots the beautiful and gifted Valerie Epstein fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, at a Galveston drive-in, he inadvertently challenges the power of the Mob and one of the richest families in Texas. He also discovers he must find the courage his father had found as an American soldier in the Great War.

Written in evocative prose, The Jealous Kind may prove to be James Lee Burke’s most encompassing work yet. As Aaron undergoes his harrowing evolution from boy to man, we can’t help but recall the inspirational and curative power of first love and how far we would go to protect it.

About the Author

James Lee Burke is an American author best known for his mysteries, particularly the Dave Robicheaux series. He has twice received the Edgar Award for Best Novel, for Black Cherry Blues in 1990 and Cimarron Rose in 1998.

Burke was born in Houston, Texas, but grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Missouri, receiving a BA and MA from the latter. He has worked at a wide variety of jobs over the years, including working in the oil industry, as a reporter, and as a social worker. He was Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, succeeding his good friend and posthumous Pulitzer Prize winner John Kennedy Toole, and preceding Ernest Gaines in the position. Shortly before his move to Montana, he taught for several years in the Creative Writing program at Wichita State University in the 1980s.

Burke and his wife, Pearl, split their time between Lolo, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana. Their daughter, Alafair Burke, is also a mystery novelist.

The book that has influenced his life the most is the 1929 family tragedy "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner.

My Review

The Jealous Kind is the third book in the Holland Family series by legendary author James Lee Burke. Mr. Burke, who is most likely the greatest living American author, has outdone himself once again with The Jealous Kind. Burke has thrown himself into the Holland family and is producing the best work of his career. I have always been a massive fan of the Dave Robicheaux series but this Holland series is special.

My husband has read The Jealous Kind as well. He was mesmerized by Burke's writing and declared that every second line in The Jealous Kind is a literary masterpiece. Burke's prose is tantalizing and evokes passion with every word.

I believe that James Lee Burke has written an ode to his own coming of age in A Jealous Kind. This is a novel about Aaron Holland Broussard's coming of age. It is set in early 1950s in Houston. I do believe that as the reader is offered insight into the personal world and observations of a young James Lee Burke. This is a very personal novel about the realities of the 1950s in America. We all seem to think that the glossed over Happy Days world is the reality but I believe The Jealous Kind is closer to the truth. 

The Jealous Kind is a story about courage. It is a story about morality and standing up for what you believe in. To have integrity. To be there for your friends. It is a love story. It is a story about the real Houston and Galveston in the 1950s.  It is a story about multi-dimensional, fascinating people.

The Jealous Kind is so beautifully written that you ignore some of the scary things that are happening in the book. While these are young people, there is a lot of tension going on. Young Aaron seems decades older in his observations about people. He is definitely not shy about saying what is on his mind. The author is very realistic in his portrayals of all his characters. He doesn't sugar-coat anything. This is the real and gritty and often evil world. And it is a world where good things can happen as well. Good vs evil. Which will win? Well you will need to read it to find out!

The Jealous Kind is a literary masterpiece. A piece of Americana, the real America, for all to read. You will be mesmerized by his words and by this story. Bravo! Another winner from James Lee Burke.

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