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Billy Boy

The Sunday Soldier of the 17th Maine

Softcover, 294 pages, Fiction, Young Adult

ISBN: 978-1-934031-13-1



About this Book:

When 20-year-old Billy Laird of Berwick excitedly enlists in the Union Army with his hometown pals, he has no idea of what lies ahead for him. Mentally challenged, he is ill prepared for the training and fighting, but he gets by with the help of his friends. Soon, however, he is sent to a different unit without them. Lonely and unsure of what to do on his own, Billy runs off and meets up with a runaway slave, Elijah. Together, and with the help of the Underground Railroad, the two make their way north to their fates.

This young adult novel—inspired by a real person, Billy Laird, and an actual event—is a tale of friendship, loyalty and compassion and will enthrall readers of all ages. It was painstakingly researched by Flahive and provides a wealth of information about Mainers’ role in the Civil War.

Billy Boy

"This first novel is a glorious tour de force. Never have I read a more compelling and sympathetic portrayal from within the mind of the mentally challenged ... I did not come up for breath as the story rolled along, every beat strong and right."
Historical Novels Review

"Readers will think of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage. Just as each of these classic American novels has a distinctive flair – earnestly rough-hewn, ironically colloquial, sardonically precise – Billy Boy has its own style, emphatically sensuous . . . . In literary heaven, Flahive's Billy Laird may sit at the table with Benjy Compson from William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Lennie Small from John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men."
The Quoddy Times

"Flahive's directive skill of rendering conversation throughout her book is remarkable. We are there in the space with Elijah and Billy, with Harry, with the troops under fire in the reality of what it now means, their mustering up for a dangerous rarified cause. . . . Flahive is surely one to be studied for her craftsmanship, her extraordinary interweaving of researched history and imaginitive realism. We see war and its sinister turnings, and the moments of unexpected enlightenment through an inner connection."
Maine Sunday Telegram

Jean Mary Flahive

About this Author

Jean Flahive has a passion for shedding light on lesser known pieces of Maine history, blending historical realities with works of fiction. She is co-author of two children’s picture books, Remember Me, Toma



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