The Green Apple Tree
by Gene Fackler
Brilliant Books Literary

"Over the coming years, in endless revisions of this moment, Thomas would pull himself from the impenetrable, myopic gloom consuming him as he stared down at the broken Army in his lap."

This is a well-told novel about three teenage boys growing up in Texas with a powerful secret. The story begins in the present day but soon turns into a flashback. While awaiting his old friend Pete, Thomas Kessler recalls an incident that took place decades earlier. The flashback takes the reader back to 1963, to the time of the Riverside Drive murders. Teenager Thomas is obsessed with creating homemade missiles and grenades, which he concocts in his family garage. Thomas and his friends are also keen to get their hands on guns and practice their shooting whenever possible. Thomas and his friend Bennett Cladwell get into all sorts of trouble in the wild woods of Texas and one day come across two men who will change their lives forever. It’s an idyllic adventurous boyhood until the good memories are shattered by the disappearance of Bennett.

Told in the third-person point of view, the protagonist, Thomas, has returned to Texas for his father, the Colonel’s, funeral. While awaiting his friend Pete in the bar, Thomas recalls the devastating turn of events that led to the grave incident. The dialogue is believable, and the reader will be transported into the mind of a teenage boy trying to find his place in the world. Thomas’ inner dialogue is scattered throughout the book, identified by italics, giving the reader an even deeper insight into the young man’s life. Thomas describes a cast of characters as he recalls his adventurous teenage days. The Texas setting is important to the story, and the author does a good job of illustrating the scenery. Readers can practically hear the twang in every character’s voice.

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