Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Fiction 2020 | 309 pages


A book cover with a picture of a boy and the words " tom boy ".

Tomboy is an excellent sequel to Shelley Blanton-Stroud's first novel, Copy Boy.  In Tomboy, Jane Benjamin reverts to her rightful gender, female.  She has been accepted at her SanFrancisco- based newspaper, the Prospect, in a low-level cub reporter role, but, still, as a young woman during the Depression Era.

Through a series of flukes, Jane gets herself on a trip to report on a female tennis star at Wimbledon, which proves to be more than Jane bargained for when the tennis star’s coach drops dead at the game. On the trip back across the Atlantic, more questions arise, and Jane soon finds herself researching another mystery.  She wants to be a gossip columnist but keeps running into real news to write about!

I loved the way the author handles Jane's trip across the sea to England, and back again, on the RMS Queen Mary.  Each chapter opens with the deck of the Queen Mary that is the setting for the chapter, and it is fascinating to watch the workings of the ship, as well as Jane and the hardships she encounters.  I swear, I could feel the rocking of the great ship.  Jane is befriended by the tennis star, Tommie, and their relationship is complex.  They serve as mirrors to each other, right down to what shoes they wear.

Jane is not an easy-to-love character.  She lies, steals, and uses people.  She is irresponsible and selfish; naive and moody.  And yet, because she sees clearly who she is and begins to admit it to herself, she is endearing and you root for her. She is also feisty, ambitious, resourceful, and determined.  In the end, she does her best to not hurt people.

I urge you to climb aboard the lively Blanton-Stroud train.  A friend of a friend, the author recently retired from teaching writing at Sacramento State.  She is a mature writer, even in this, her second novel.  I am at the edge of my seat, awaiting the third novel, The Poster Girl. RECOMMENDED!

January 2024