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When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton

When the Whistle BlowsThe railroads run in the Cannon family’s veins. That’s why Jimmy is so sure that’s where he’s be working when he grows up, no matter how much his father demands otherwise. Jimmy feels his future is all set, especially since his father is the foreman of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and both his older brothers have quit school to work there too. All there’s left to do is wait while he grows up. But as much as Jimmy would like to think everything will stay the way it is, change is indeed coming, just as his father promised it would. Now, Jimmy just has to keep up with it or fall behind.

When the Whistle Blows is a historical novel centering on the power of the father-son relationship. Though I don’t have any firsthand experience with this, being a girl, I felt this story portrayed Jimmy and his father’s evolving bond beautifully. Slayton’s writing encompasses all the frustration, respect, protectiveness, and love the strongest father-son bonds create in seven yearly episodes. Slayton also does a fantastic job of making the story realistic; the characters were very believable and the setting and diction made the historical context authentic. Despite the story being set over fifty years ago, its message is still meaningful: change comes no matter how much resistance. And this can be change in any form, whether it is technology or familial situations. This message is only reinforced by the evolving train technology from steam to diesel and Jimmy and his father’s developing relationship. When the Whistle Blows is a solid debut novel full of hope for the future.

Fans of historical fiction, especially Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher, will enjoy When the Whistle Blows. I look forward to Slayton’s writing as well.

Rating: 4.0

Review copy from author Fran Cannon Slayton

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