December 22, 2008

Book Review...Boomtown: Chang's Famous Fireworks

Boomtown: Chang's Famous Fireworks, set around 1950, is a story about…well, several things actually, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing. The book begins with Reverend Arthur Button and his family moving to Boomtown from California in order to have a quieter, more peaceful life. But that backfires (pun intended) when he learns that Boomtown is the most explosive city around. Besides the town's affinity for fireworks, every pastor in the 70 year history of Arthur's church has had to be replaced because each one has met an untimely death.

That danger is contrasted by the fact that when it comes to caring about people, Boomtown is the safest place to be. When Rev Button questions the apparent quirkiness of everyone in this town, he is told that people don’t give up on each other “just because it’s hard.”

I have to admit, the biggest problem I had with the book is it’s just trying to do so much. Kids will enjoy the antics of the townspeople and the various ways things go “boom”! But they won’t understand the abandonment of an infant or the internal battle that haunts the reverend. The town has an “in your face” kind of feel, and yet there is a silent mystery waiting to be revealed. It's an incredible blend of fantasy and hard reality.

I do think it’s worth reading, but I think it would be best read as a family. A lot of stuff happens in Boomtown, silly and serious, which can be the start of some great conversations. I can’t help but think this Bible Study Guide could spark some meaningful dialogue. Multiple scriptures are referenced in the chapter questions.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the book for me was chapters 9 & 10, when the Buttons visit the Boomtown Museum. Any child would dream of going to a museum where the floors come to you! I would love to see these inventions on the big screen!

To sum up, there will be things you love and things you hate, but in my mind that's what makes a great story. These characters cannot be placed into a neat, little box...they are frustrating at times, wonderfully so. Does it end how I wanted it to? No, the ending is far too real. But what makes Boomtown (the book) special is the hope that a place like Boomtown (the city) really can exist.


Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I didn't realize there was a study guide to this book. I agree with your perceptions. Hopefully I'll be finished reading it to Will soon and can post my own review.

jupiter family said...

Happy New Year!

2009 Fireworks show