The book’s title, along with a cover photo of three young kids showing off a large, freshly-caught fish, sets readers up for a nostalic recounting of author Jay Reed’s life. And, indeed, from the very first page, Reed talks of “coaxing my mind back thirty years to frolic in a warm pool of childhood memories.”
Reed starts promisingly with boyhood tales from rural Indiana: growing pumpkins, exploring creeks and ponds, catching snakes, collecting beer cans, herding the family cattle. Unlike many angst-ridden memoirs, with their dark tales of abuse and hard times, this one is refreshingly happy and positive. Reed’s easy-going style effortlessly carries readers along, with the author crediting his mom and God equally for this blissful childhood.
But just as we settle back to enjoy this trip down memory lane, the author suddenly fast-forwards to his 30s, moving without warning into a batch of stories mainly about hiking in the mountains, kayaking and walking in the woods. The author obviously loves the great outdoors, but his rapt descriptions of nature can feel overwritten: “Here on these cloud-draped slopes, a river is born, its birth no less miraculous than a spotted fawn leaving his mother’s womb to taste his first breath of mountain air.” More importantly, little of note seems to happen in these adult adventures.
The author ends the book with a collection of life lessons and affirmations, several of which rely heavily on God, faith and the power of prayer.
Reed says writing this book helped him with his search for simpler times and a peaceful state of mind, and he hopes that readers will similarly benefit. While some will wish for more heft to the author’s later adventures, those who appreciate a nostalgic journey—and can overlook the uneven nature of the book as whole— will find some rewards here.
Also available as an ebook.