By GREG STOUT
Connor Ward is a normal fifteen-going-on sixteen-year-old boy, living in Fresno, California. However, his life is anything but normal because he is a "Navy brat," meaning that both his parents are officers in the United States Navy. His mother is a medical doctor, and his father pilots F4 Phantom jets on combat missions during the height of the Vietnam war. Despite the many moves that go along with being part of a military family, Connor hopes that California will be the last stop, at least long enough for him to finish high school and maybe make some lasting friends. But those dreams go up in smoke on the day his father's plane is shot down over enemy territory, and his mother is reassigned to a military hospital in Japan. And so, instead of spending his last vacation before high school at home in California, he is shipped off to live with his ailing grandfather in Goldenrod, Kansas. What follows is a summer like he never expected-and that he will never forget-as he quickly becomes the number-one target of the town bully, the star pitcher on the local baseball team, and the new best friend of an outgoing girl named Mal, who has a story she wants Connor to hear.
Meantime, there are questions: will his grandfather recover from his sickness? Did his father survive when his plane was lost, and is he now a POW? Will he ever get back home again, or will his mother be permanently assigned to the hospital in Japan? And what will happen between Connor and Mal as their relationship grows steadily stronger?
During his time in Goldenrod, Connor learns a number of lessons about the things that are important in every person's life, including duty, honor, love, loss and facing one's fears. And in the end, he is a much different person from the one we meet at the beginning of the story.
Paperback: 268 pages
Publisher: Beacon Publishing Group
Category: Drama | Fiction
Greg’s background includes 27 years as an executive in the automotive industry and twelve years as a teacher of American history, language arts, reading, drama, film criticism and Latin in the public school system in suburban Chicago. He holds a BA in economics from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in education from Aurora University. Of greater relevance, he has written more than 20 books on the history of American railroads, a logical outcome of having grown up in a family of professional railroaders. His first title, Route of the Eagles, a history of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, was released in 1995 and his most recent effort will be in print in mid-2019. Gideon’s Ghost, his first work of fiction, was drawn from actual experiences that took place during an extended visit with relatives in a small town in Missouri during the mid-1960s. It is a book written for young adult readers, which, not coincidentally, was the age group he taught during his “second career.” Of course, like any good ghost story, some of the plot elements are imagined and some really happened. It will be up to the reader to decide which are which. Now retired from the day-to-day work force, he still writes for at least two hours every day (when not fishing, traveling, going to the movies or pursuing rail fan activities). His advice to aspiring writers is “…keep reading, keep writing, and if your dream is to one day see your name in print, never, ever give up. The more you write, the better you will get, and one day your dream will become a reality.” Greg resides with his wife and two cats, Wallace and Gromit, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where he is also a member of the Heartland Writers Guild.
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