Summer Reading for Young and New Fans
Eric Luper is a self-proclaimed writer of books for youth. In the case of Bug Boy he hit two audiences important to racing---the next generation of fans and current new fans in need of a primer. As a horse racing fan the motif was a natural. Living in the Albany, New York area, this Rutgers University trained writer has been a regular at the Saratoga Race Course. Although the track's current fame as the summer place to be, is legitimate, in decades-gone-by the track was a collector for racing enthusiasts, gangsters and bookies. Eric's book paints that period of the 1930s, the era of the Great Depression, with excitement and intrigue. It is a good read for the young who want a taste of life then, but also for new racing fans of any age who are interested in the history of the sport and characters that inhabited it.
The story is about a "Shabby Jack Walsh, a son of a dysfunctional family who shipped him off to the racetrack to reduce living costs at home and maybe find a career. He does most jobs that pay on the backside of a racetrack, including learning how to exercise horses. This latter assignment finds in him a natural skill to be a rider with impeccable timing. Recognized by a trainer Jack gets his chance to be a jockey and ride a real race in the afternoon in Saratoga.
The book which pays great detail to the city, track and culture of racing follows Jack's journey through the abbreviated Saratoga racing meet in 1934.
Bug Boy is a light read with unexpected outcomes, the hallmark of a summer read at the track for any age. For new fans it adequately introduces them to a number of occupations associated with racing in the 1930s. They include owners, trainers, grooms, hot-walkers, exercise riders, gamblers, crooks, bookies and bug boys. For the young fan it likely heightens their interest in the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Soon they will asking Mom or Dad to take them to a racetrack to see the horses race.
This is fun to read and one that will keep you in the racing mood on dark days at your favorite track this summer.
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