Verdict: CHICO BOY is a captivating read, particularly for YA readers looking for an adventure story from a not-so-distant past.
Fourteen-year-old Richard Campbell—better known as Chico Boy—and his twelve-year-old sidekick, Talula Moonstone, hear shots ring out next door while attending to a neighbor’s horse. The friends quickly hide in a shed as they observe two sets of feet scurrying about to locate the teens. Clearly, Chico and Talula are now targets. Later that evening, Chico investigates the crime scene. But soon after entering the house, Chico hears a stirring followed by shooting. He races out into the woods only to bump into a man wounded in the crossfire. Fortunately, a week-long summer church camp is around the bend, and Chico and Talula look forward to getting away from the bizarre situation. But any hope of escaping their pursuers is dashed when Talula is suddenly kidnapped.
Author Gina Hooten Popp scripts a coming-of-age plot in her latest novel. Chico and Talula both come from troubled homes. Both are intelligent kids, but are not reaching their full potential. Talula’s home life is filled with constant tension from argumentative parents. Chico’s grades have been dropping ever since his father abandoned the family a year before. Luckily, he has a summer school tutor who helps him out in more ways than he could ever imagine. Amid their personal difficulties, Popp places the best friends in unexpected circumstances that will test their limits, as well as provide opportunities for bravery.
Set during the 1970s, Popp weaves in aspects of what life was like during that era, including nuances such as Nixon (i.e., Watergate) and pre-technical gadgets (i.e., rotary telephones, Xerox copies). Popp keeps her narrative fluid by shifting character scenes—primarily between Chico and Talula, incorporating light cliffhanging chapters, unanticipated scenes, sprinkling contrasts between adult and teen situations, providing plenty of foils to develop her principle characters, and stirring up light romance.
CHICO BOY is a captivating read, particularly for YA readers looking for an adventure story from a not-so-distant past.
~Anita Lock for IndieReader