Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Hawkins County" Does For The 1970's What "Stand By Me" Did For The 1950's.


This is not a Western, but it is an unusual book that illustrates the changes the 1960s and 70s brought to American culture and law enforcement. Based on the author's own experiences as a juvenile probation officer in rural Hawkins County, Minnesota, the story line traces the coming of age of an immature, cocky probation officer, who learns how to help youngsters caught up in the criminal justice system, and guide them to a more useful life. It is not a happily- ever-after sort of book as Jack Johnson finds his small mistakes handling his juvenile clients can lead to big consequences. 

The death of a teenager who is fleeing the police is a sobering experience for Jack. Particularly well drawn is the character of Pat O'Connor, the son of an alcoholic. Pat is avoiding arrest on a warrant for breaking his probation. He avoids drugs and thievery, but runs with a bad crowd. He is sensitive teenager, very protective of his dad, and Jack's goal is to reform Pat's behavior. This is an interesting book for its social commentary and the flavor of the 1970s.

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Feedback at both bookstores appreciated. 


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