Ugly To Start With by John Michael Cummings

book cover of   Ugly to Start With   by  John Michael Cummings
Read a synopsis here!
Number of pages: 168
Ugly To Start With is, by far, unlike any other book I have ever read. The book doesn’t have a definitive plot and is, rather, a collection of short stories that are told through the point of view of Jason Stevens. Jason is a teenager growing up in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia in the 70’s and throughout the short stories we see how he explores many different aspects not only of himself, but of his town, and the social pressures surrounding him and his family.
I really liked this book! I don’t really read short stories, and I’ve certainly never read a book that had short stories that were all strung together, but it worked! It felt like the story was moving faster and since it was a looser style of writing, more adventures were told. I think if this book had had a singular plot then we wouldn’t have discovered as much as we did about Jason, his family, his town, and most importantly, his own thoughts surrounding all the events that he encountered. 
Jason has such a fresh way of telling things like they are, but he still has a boyish innocence that leads him to making mistakes (isn’t that how all teenage years are though?). Was I able to relate to Jason? Not too much, mainly because he grew up in a different time period, but he was still easy to root for and I wanted to see where his follies would take him.
The end was a little bit of a cliff-hanger for me! I was disappointed that I couldn’t learn what was going to happen next, but that left room for me to fill in my own fantasies about what Jason would go on to see and experience. Maybe it wasn’t a cliff-hanger then, but more of an open-to-interpretation sort of ending. 
Of course Jason could be a snob at times, but he always had his reasons for his actions. As a struggling artist, who has to put up with his ornery father, and neighborhood of gossiping women and no-nonsense men, Jason lives a very confused life it seems. For this reason he is often confused about which action to take in certain situations, but this leads to a more exciting stories of ups and downs.
This was such a quick and easy read and I flew through the book because I always was curious as to what crazy situation Jason would get himself into next. I would definitely read more books like this if they’re out there because this really made me appreciate short stories more. This was also a great historical fiction read!
See you soon!
Paige

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