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A middle grade road novel about a boy stuck on a summer trip with his offbeat auto-mechanic cousins—a humor- and heart-filled journey that leads the boy to an unexpected confrontation with some broken-down parts of himself.
After eleven-year-old June Ball’s dad disappears without so much as a goodbye note, June’s mother sends him on the road with his adult cousins, mechanics Thomas and Cornell Ball. The Balls are “Ford Men”; their calling in life is to restore old Ford cars—and only Ford cars—that no longer run. And so begins a summer traveling the highways and byways of America, encountering busted-up Fairlanes, Thunderbirds, and Rancheros. They also encounter the cars’ owners, who sometimes need fixing up, too.
June doesn’t understand his cousins’ passion for all things Ford. But at every turn, June realizes that this journey is about more than giving neglected classic cars some much-needed TLC—there’s room to care for the broken parts of humans, too.
A story of adventure, longing, and growing up from adult novelist, journalist, and All-SEC center for the LSU Tigers, John Ed Bradley.
“Combining all the best features of a road trip and a coming-of-age tale . . . The back-roads odyssey, which takes on a ritualistic, dreamlike quality even as it takes the travelers from Wisconsin to Louisiana, of course parallels an inner one as June works through the grief-fueled anger sparked by the sudden disappearance of his dad . . . The journey ends where it began, while leaving the travelers—and readers who go with them—changed.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“Car fanciers will relish the details while the family issues will resonate with many readers . . . Offbeat and upbeat.” —Kirkus Reviews
“For middle graders new to the road trip genre, there are few better routes to travel than Bradley’s . . . The Ball brothers are the stars here, and Bradley makes them quirky enough to keep the tone light and big-hearted enough to demonstrate that any job done with skill and passion deserves—and gets—respect.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books