Every now and then, a small American town produces someone with such out-of-place talent that he seems to have come from a different world. In the 1960s hardscrabble town of Laroque, Wisconsin, seventeen-year-old Ginger Piper, a high school sports hero and a disarmingly poised and articulate young man, is that sort of figure. Or at least G. Bowman Epps—a rich, lonely, middle-aged lawyer—believes he is.
Bow is something of a town legend too: Ungainly and scarred, brilliant and stern, famous for great inherited wealth, he seems a vestige of a time gone by in a town where the legacy of past greatness—embodied in the ornate, decaying, and defunct opera house—casts a literal shadow. But when Bow discovers Ginger Piper, he is energized and inspired. Where others have seen merely a charming basketball star, Bow spies the seeds of something greater and the drive, intelligence, and passion to carry on Bow’s legacy as a groundbreaking criminal attorney. When Bow offers the boy a summer apprenticeship in his orderly practice, it is an investment in a certain future, and the initiation of an oddly matched friendship. But when Ginger is accused of a startling crime that changes the town's perception of him, Bow is not only surprised, he’s also implicated, and forced to choose between his fierce sense of logic and his admiration for the boy.
The story unfolds as the first agonizing repercussions of the Vietnam War are being felt and the American people are struggling to comprehend a new kind of war. It inspires a startling division between the generations at home, as politics and personal lives inevitably collide.
Bow’s investigator, Charlie Stuart, narrates the events thirty years later, adding a perspective colored by tortured memories of his manic father and his halting pursuit of a young woman in town. Anchored by a compelling mystery, Bow’s Boy is ultimately about greatness, heroism, loyalty, and justice, and the pain and solace of family.
About Richard Babcock
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Published May 8, 2010
History, Literature & Fiction.