This little piece of historical fiction centers on Billy Johnson. In 1951, he’s just a kid and it’s plowing season. Billy’s dad and two Black farm workers (Rufus & Calvin) are hard at work with the mules when a little rain shower comes along and work is paused. Billy’s dad doesn’t waste the time but instead uses it to teach Billy the useful skill of catching and killing rabbits.
I really liked this part of the story because it’s set on a farm, there are mules (I used to have donkeys and one of them was trained to plow), and there’s some parent-kid bonding going on. In today’s world of industrial meat farms, catching and killing rabbits isn’t a common skill to pass down but I think it’s a useful one to have. The author didn’t hold back on how to capture and kill rabbits, nor did he make the descriptions gruesome. It was simply a useful skill being passed on from one generation to the next.
The story is catapulted into 1975 for the second half of the tale. Billy is a functioning adult with a job and aspirations. In a conversation with a shoestring relative, he’s flung back to that moment in 1951 where his dad taught him about rabbits.
I was intrigued by the second half of this story. It was interesting to see Billy living and working in near-modern world with office buildings and packaged foods. However, the tale ends rather abruptly. I was left wondering what the point was and how Billy was affected by this unexpected trigger in 1975 that brought back 1951. I would have liked just a little more to finish this story out. We don’t know if Billy’s dad is alive in 1975 or not. Perhaps Billy would give him a call or visit his grave or simply toast his memory with a scotch.
In short, the tale started off interesting and gripping. Then there’s the sudden jump in timeline but the story holds promise for interesting times. Then it simply ends abruptly.
I received a free copy of this book.
The Narration: James Kiser was a good fit for this story. He had a kid voice for Billy and then an adult voice for him. There was only 1 female character but Kiser had a believable voice for her. He captured the dramatic bits as well as the in-between moments well.