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Historical Fiction Review    

 

 
 
 
 
The Long Journey
by Wayne Greenhaw
River City Publishing, 2002
ISBN:  1-57966-028-2
 
 

Wayne Greenhaw has written a touching “rite of passage” novel that follows the maturing of 16 year-old Harold Reed as he travels alone to meet his brother, a wounded veteran returning from World War I. 

Young Harold seems to have his life mapped out.  He has worked as a shoe shine boy for a local barber and has been learning the barber trade.  His father would prefer him to show the ambition of his brother and sisters who have go on to college, but Harold lacks the desire for higher learning.   

It is not till Harold starts his two-day journey that it becomes clear how innocent of the world Harold is.  Traveling with his father’s horse and a mule, Harold comes to a fork in the road, and his journey takes on the symbolism of the choices one makes in life. 

The Long Journey is a lively adventure.  Harold befriends a balloonist, an Irish fiddler, and a Choctaw girl.  They stay overnight at a plantation of a general who fought in the Civil War.  Once arriving at Decatur, Harold’s journey has already marked him.  As he waits for his brother’s train, more events are lessons in manhood.  Harold ventures where his father told him not to go, and meets a young soiled dove.  The widow, who owns the boarding house where he is staying, also takes a personal interest in the young man. He has to deal with issues of Jim Crow while seeking medical attention for the Choctaw girl; then later comes face to face with night riders (KKK).   

By the time his brother arrives, Harold is a man.  The journey also prepared him to face the war demons that haunt his brother on the journey home.   

The Long Journey is a powerful tale of a young man finding his way into the world.  It would be a good choice for reading groups and high school American Literature curriculum.

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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