Rediscovering Books

A Re-discovered Novel

During our COVID Sheltering in Place, many of us have evolved into book detectives, searching our bookshelves to solve the mystery of the misplaced book we loved and let get away, far into the dark recesses of that shelf.

I’ve rediscovered the superb storyteller Jon Hassler. Grand Opening, a grand tale, is one of his best. Not your ordinary coming of age novel, Grand Opening’s young character, Dodger, is part rebel with a record and part sensitive, vulnerable and terribly misunderstood. Living in small town Minnesota during World War Two, he is shunned by many.

Grocery store owners and newcomers Hank and Catherine Foster, son Brendan and Grandfather take in Dodger and offer him the opportunity for schooling and work in the store. Plum, an imaginary small town in Southwest Minnesota, is typical of many small towns, friendly on the surface, but at heart somewhat malicious. Reminiscent of Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street, Grand Opening is a gentler, kinder rendition. Jon Hassler, now deceased, taught at St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN, and was a prolific writer. Among his other gems are Dear James, A Green Journey and Staggerford.