Reviewed by Joanne Reynolds

Jason is a young boy growing up in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. It is a tourist attraction and the entire town is filled with little souvenir shops. Jason lives right in the center of all of these shops, but his father is an extreme junk collector. Their yard is filled with countless “treasures” that his father believes are valuable and reusable.

Jason is a very artistic, sensitive youngest child and very different from his father, so their relationship is tenuous. His father has a supreme dislike of black people, tourists and just about anyone who doesn’t share his opinions.

Ugly to Start With is comprised of different short stories about Jason’s life. The reader is along for the ride as he learns of the town’s wanting to purchase his family’s home for historic reasons, his becoming involved with an older man, his falling in love with a girl of African-American descent and his love of art. The stories are well-rounded and pull you into the heart of Jason, who is just a young boy trying to do what he loves.

There was only one chapter that made me cringe a little. The chapter with the older man seemed creepy and I was quite disturbed by the predatory nature of the man. Otherwise the stories were interesting and made me root for Jason and hope that he would make it beyond the small town prejudicial nature of his surroundings.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Joanne has always been an avid reader and loves the ability to lose herself in someone else’s life for the time that it takes to read about it. She has a huge admiration for authors and the worlds that they create for us. She enjoys reading to her granddaughters and hopes that they take up the love of reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by John Michael Cummings. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.