The Side-Yard Superhero by Rick D. Niece

Rick Niece is the President of The University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. The Side-Yard Superhero is his "automythography". What’s an automythography you ask? According to Rick it is "A work of nonfiction that looks reflectively at what we think we remember and how we think we remember it; an iridescent memory based upon truth and fact."

The Side-Yard Superhero is Rick’s account of what it was like to grow up in DeGraff (a small town in Ohio) with about 900 residents. Rick (back then known as Ricky) recounts his job of paperboy (that he kept until he moved out for college) and the neighbors he met on his daily route, along with what it was like growing up in a town where you knew everyone, local Friday hangouts and the carnival coming to town.

Through Ricky we are introduced to several characters:

Fern an elderly woman who worked for a newspaper at the turn of the century and who now resided with her dog. Fern had a tendency of walking around the neighborhood in just her brassiere and pants (this was her normal everyday attire). We meet Miss Lizzie - she was somewhat of a recluse due to the loss of her fiancé during WWI but who could bake the best pumpkin loaf in town. But especially we meet Bernie Jones. Bernie Jones is a boy Ricky befriends on his paper route who is wheelchair bound due to cerebral palsy. Everyday Ricky delivered the paper - Bernie waited in the side-yard of his home so that they could sit together and read Dick Tracy comics, talk about school, life and dreams.

Each chapter is a story of its own. We learn of the Saturday that Rickie took Bernie along with him on his paper route, and the Halloween where he and Bernie helped Miss Lizzie hand out her pumpkin loaf to all the towns trick-or-treaters. Bernie gets his name of Side-Yard Superhero from dressing up like Superman that year. We also read of the year the carnival came to town and Ricky was able to ride Bernie on the teacup ride. I enjoyed reading of the stories that relate to the wonderful support and relationships Ricky and his neighbors had. It makes you think about the importance of your roots. I also found myself looking forward to reading the fantastic poems at the beginning of each chapter.

Overall, I thought this book was touching and insightful. It helps you think of the simplicity in life and the basics of what is important. It’s a story about friendships, promises and growing up. This was just such a nice, feel good read. I highly recommend it .


Serena said...

nely, you've won reading by lightning, please email me your snail mail address by March 23 at 5pm EST, so I can get the book out to you! Congrats, Savvy Verse & Wit

bermudaonion said...

I'm looking forward to reading this one.

Anonymous said...

That sounds really good; I'll have to look for it.

ANovelMenagerie said...

Your blog is looking SPIFFY!

Great review.


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