Tom Hall & The Captain of All These Men of Death
(Pleasure Boat Studio, March 2015)
Tom Hall is one of those rare books which qualifies as a Young Adult novel as well as a challenging read for adults. In this coming-of-age work, twelve-year-old Tom Hall must accompany his sick father to a tuberculosis sanitarium in Arizona. The year is 1945, and Eddie, Tom’s father, calls the magic mountain “a place where a bunch of men wait to die.” Tom discovers the world of the Arizona back country, witnesses a savage beating of an American Indian friend, and comes to recognize the awful finality of a terminal illness. He and his father move to Los Angeles with Larry, Eddie’s nurse from the sanitarium, and Tom encounters new experiences. He learns about beach life, about survival on the streets, about carnivals and horse races; he skips school and rides the electric streetcars, searching for meaning in a life that seems to be on hold, both frightening and exciting. The startling conclusion of this story will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned.