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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Gravel Pit Kids is an adventure/coming of age novel for young adults and preteens written by Geraldine Ryan-Lush. David’s mom and dad were pretty excited about the family’s upcoming move to St. John. His mom had often complained that she was tired of small-town living, but David suspected that his friendship with Kenny Finney was in no small part a major factor in her desire to move on to a bigger city. It bothered David that people couldn’t look past Kenny’s dirty face and ragged attire, his unkempt hair and the tumbledown trailer in the gravel pit that he and his family called home. Kenny was tired all the time, and David suspected he didn’t get much sleep in that trailer. Folks in Brookens loved to gossip about the Finney family and conjecture about their being dependent upon social assistance, and they gossiped about the family’s wild parties at night. None of that mattered much to David, though he did worry about his friend not getting enough to eat and loved how his mom would make sure Kenny was fed whenever he came around. But, more than that, Kenny was his best friend. He was a brilliant artist and budding architect, and he had designed The Martian Outpost, their tree house in David’s backyard. And they loved to go fishing and adventuring together. David couldn’t imagine not having his friend around, and he really didn’t want to move.
Geraldine Ryan-Lush’s coming of age novel, The Gravel Pit Kids, is a grand and glorious story about two youngsters and the enduring friendship they share. As I read, I couldn’t help but think of that famous friendship between Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, while I was also reminded of the youthful narrator in Robertson Davies’ novel, Fifth Business, the first book in his Deptford Trilogy. And yes, that is high praise indeed, but well-merited by this powerful and unforgettable tale about friendship, loyalty and social pressures. There are humorous episodes such as when David fakes incipient blindness to get out of solving a math equation on the chalkboard in class, and powerful moments like his solo day’s long journey back to Brookens to find out if his friend was still alive. The Gravel Pit Kids is a poignant and moving novel that transcends age limitations, and I would not hesitate to recommend it for those adults who still remember what it was like to be young, as well as those who would like to remember once more. The Gravel Pit Kids is most highly recommended.