Memories and Mysteries

James W. Dean
Outskirts Press (2017)
ISBN 9781478791751
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (11/18)

Author James Dean knows how to capture readers attention with his “sit by the fire and let me tell you a story” memories of growing up in, “Memories and Mysteries.” I loved the down-home cadence of his stories. At the end of each he provides The Mystery that relates to his memories, and, whether truth or not, readers will love it.

The Orphans of Preston Ave is heartbreaking yet at the same time a fact-of-life during the 1950s throughout the United States. Taking place in the summer of 1955 in Richmond, Virginia, the 5-year-old author and his siblings were used to his parents fighting over finances and his dad’s drinking. At the end of some major fights, the kids would be brought in to state which parent they would rather live with. One event led to the children being placed in an orphanage because no adult was found in the house with the children while the mother ran off with a refined businessman and the dad was off on a drinking binge. Having worked with the court system, I can honestly say being placed in child services is very traumatic for children regardless of the reason for such placement.

Dean presents his growing up years with humor, love and persistence. There are few readers who can relate to growing up during this era with little or no money or extravagant conveniences.

Having the stories revolve around the Richmond, Virginia area, I found I could picture every place and scenario. Readers will find this to be an easy read, can’t-put-down journey down memory lane. The only distraction for me was the numerous spelling errors throughout the ten stories.

Dean writes with ease and the fact that he included The Mystery at the end of each story makes one want to look up the mysteries to see if they are true. His stories remind me of growing up in the country where we learned to entertain ourselves when going to town was not an option. It also reminded me of stories that were passed down from my dad over the years.

 I recommend “Memories and Mysteries” by James Dean if you like a warm, passionate read that transports one to a different time.