post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Moonshiner’s Son
Author: Carolyn Reeder
Major Themes: Appalachia, Prohibition, Virginia
Synopsis: Tom had never questioned his father’s occupation of making moonshine until a new preacher came to town and began trying to shut down all the stills in the area.
Moonshiner’s Son was quite an interesting story. I haven’t read anything else from the point of view of someone who made moonshine for a living during Prohibition—in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a story about Prohibition! This book really makes you think about the rights and wrongs of making alcohol and drinking, as well as what family means. I liked the way it turned out in the end.
Tom helped his father make moonshine from the corn they raised on their farm in the Blue Ridge of Virginia, as well as brandy from fruit. His father was an expert, and proud of his craft—but now he had to keep the still hidden. Because of Prohibition, alcohol was now illegal, so he had to find creative ways to hide his product. Then, the new preacher’s daughter, Amy, found the still and helped her father in his crusade to eliminate drinking and making drink. Worse yet, Tom liked Amy and her mother, and badly wanted to go to Mrs. Taylor’s school so he could learn to read—how could he possibly reconcile that friendship and desire with wanting to make his father proud of him, and help him with his stilling? You will be surprised at the outcome!
This is a story about a rough time and place in the history of the United States. It is quite a sympathetic glimpse into the lives of people who made their living doing a craft passed down for generations, but now illegal. It’s also very thought-provoking, as the mountain people express their personal codes of conduct. I felt for Mr. Taylor, the preacher, as he came in to the community with his own ideas of right and wrong and tried to change things. There were a lot of people who changed during the course of the story, which I enjoyed watching. There was humor and sadness and friendship. Overall, it’s a good book, although I wondered at times whether it was worth reading.
WARNING: Chapters 12 and 16 each use the word “durn” once, and “heck” appears in chapter 21. There is a fight in chapter 25, and a woman tells a story in that chapter which mentions a suicide. There is also lying in various chapters throughout the book.
Read Aloud—Ages 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15
Links to buy Moonshiner’s Son:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Appalachia, Prohibition, Virginia