The Boys Who Woke Up Early is a memoir-esque read from A.D. Hopkins set in the fictional town of Early, Virginia. His plot is told through the first person perspective of Stony Shelor as he recounts his youth through his senior year of high school. Throughout this fictional person’s story we are given an examination of race in the South alongside a glimpse into the South in the 1960’s.
While this book begins with Stony and his youth it eventually becomes more focused on his connection to the local police department. Hopkins background as a journalist gave him the opportunity to connect with police in Virginia during the time he is highlighting throughout his book. This connection allows him to delve into the diverse way that officers behave and how crime is handled in small towns. Stony and one of his few friends, Jack, begin assisting at the police department as sort of unpaid teens which gives The Boys Who Woke Up Early a feeling that seemed reminiscent of a Hardy Boys book. While these boys aren’t trained and really shouldn’t be involved in criminal investigation they decide to take the law into their own hands. They find themselves in dangerous situations, but also include comedy in their ventures.
In terms of race, Hopkins does not shy away from the ingrained racism that appears within narratives of the South, especially those that examine small towns. Stony’s character is presented as being more accepting and willing to allow his worldview to grow. His friend Jack is shown exhibiting racist behavior, especially when he learns a girl he and Stony know is dating a boy of color from the community. The Boys Who Woke Up Early is an interesting read that does feel like a real person is sharing their story, even though it is fictional. Hopkins creates a very full and complex story that brings together a variety of ideas into the story of one young man’s life. You can purchase your copy of The Boys Who Woke Up Early today.