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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Side-Yard Superhero...Review

About the book:
'I know where Bernie Jones is.'With one late-night phone call, Rick Niece is transported back over forty years to cherished childhood memories of small town DeGraff, Ohio. His daily newspaper route, the sights and wonders of a traveling carnival, the sounds of Christmas caroling-the idyllic memories all circle back to one special relationship.To Rickie, being friends with Bernie Jones was no different than being friends with any other boy in town. Bernie's physical world was confined to a wheelchair, but that didn't stop him from being an intrepid daydreamer, adventurer, and hero to Rickie. The unique friendship the boys forged defined an era in both their lives. When he left for college, Rickie promised Bernie they would meet again. Now, decades later, he is making the pilgrimage back to Ohio to fulfill that promise.   

The Side-Yard Superhero is subtitled, "Life in DeGraff: An Automythography". Author Rick Niece defines an "automythography" as, a work of non-fiction that looks reflectively at what we think we remember and how we think we remember it; an iridescent memory based upon truth and fact. This charming memoir is all that and more.

Dr. Rick Niece is the President of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas and here he describes his childhood in DeGraff, Ohio. His family moved to the small town of DeGraff when Rick was 4 and they moved 16 years later. DeGraff provided the quintessential childhood: paper routes, freedom to run and play, creeks to explore and unguarded swimming holes. It also provided life changing lessons and friendships. Chief among those was Rick's friendship with Bernie Jones, a boy confined to a wheelchair because of Cerebral Palsy. An unlikely duo, Rick and Bernie formed a strong friendship and while Rick was able to occasionally take Bernie away from his to the side-yard existence, Bernie was able to provide an appreciation-of- life-perspective for Rick.

With moments of laugh out loud hilarity alternating with tender tear-filled moments, Dr. Niece has captured the oft-forgotten charms of small-town life. Reading this delightful novel, I found myself remembering my childhood and wishing that my own boys could know the freedoms that I did. Times and circumstances change, but The Side-Yard Superhero makes you long for those innocent days past, when neighbors knew neighbors, communities came together and little boys still had paper routes.

Thanks to Elizabeth McCurry and Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists for the opportunity to read this book. You can learn more about Rick Niece here. For additional reviews check out these great bloggers: bermudaonion, and This That and the Other Thing.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/09

* * * *

4/5 Stars


  1. Thanks for the link. It was a good read.

  2. I really enjoyed this book too. It made me long for simpler times. Thanks for the link love.

  3. Sounds charming! I have a thing about memoirs. :) Plus I never lived in a small town.