Red Sky at Morning

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  • Published : April 10, 2005
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Josh Arnold is the teenage son of a shipbuilder father and a hothouse flower, Southern mother. When his father insists on joining the Navy for the last few months of WWII, Josh and his mother are shipped off to the family's second house in New Mexico, on the off chance that their hometown of Mobile, AL might still be bombed. This requires them to take leave of their sassy, savvy, black servants Paul and Lacey and their seedy Southern hanger-on, Jimbob Buel. In fact, Josh hints that the real reason his father wants them out of Mobile is to get rid of Jimbob for the duration, though the effort proves futile.

In Sagrado, they have to put up with even more insolent servants in Amadeo and Excilda Montoya and a whole cast of charming local characters. Josh is befriended by Marcia Davidson, daughter of the town's Episcopalian rector, and William "Steenie" Stenopolous, son of the town doctor, but has a more uneasy relationship with their many Hispanic classmates.

Bradford uses Josh's relationships with those around him to illuminate the very different cultures of the South and the Southwest and he really excels at writing fast-paced, witty dialogue. Josh's father in particular has some hilarious exchanges with the superintendent of his shipyard and with Amadeo. Also, Sagrado's sheriff, Chamaco, is a real hoot. The adventures and misadventures of Josh, Steenie, and Marcia as they try to grow up too fast are quite amusing and, when circumstances finally do force them to grow up, the story is poignant without being maudlin.
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