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James and Jack

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287 pages4 hours

Summary

James Caldwell has just graduated from high school. An only child, his parents indulge his every whim; his graduation gift is a red Corvette convertible. Their expectations are that, after college, James will return to Grangerville, a small Illinois town, and work in the printing business which his father has dedicated his life to building, and which is to be his son’s heritage.
He should be enthusiastic about his good fortune but, more than anything, James, who has never been further from home than a lake, thirty miles distant, where he and his dad sometimes go fishing, wants get out of this humdrum town. His dream is to become a foreign correspondent and travel the world.
A couple of weeks after graduation, he suggests, at dinner, that they take a trip. His father’s excuse, as always, is that he “can’t leave the business.”
James is furious. The next morning, without notifying his parents, he takes off, heading west, determined to “see the world.”
Jack Trent’s background is quite different. Jack has never had a home. After his mother and baby sister died in an apartment fire in Kansas City, his father spends the next fifteen years moving from place to place, from job to job. Jack has never attended any one school for more than a year. His lifelong dream has been to have a home of his own.
He has just begun the second semester in the community college in Grand Junction, Colorado when his father is killed in an automobile accident.
Trying to decide what to do Jack, who has been completely dependent on his father, drops out of school and hitches a ride in an 18 wheeler.
He has just decided that the sensible thing is to become a truck driver. Then he and James meet up at a truck stop in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
James invites Jack to ride along,
They decide to travel the perimeter of the United States. As they drive, they discuss their hopes and dreams, each envying the other for having lived a life the other wants so badly. With the passing of time, they give each other hope that fate will intervene and their dreams will ultimately be realized.
Ten months later, after sojourns up into Canada, down into Mexico and the Florida Keys, they have reached Rockland, Maine. While there, James receives word that his father has suffered a heart attack. They rush back to Grangerville.
His father recovers, but James is trapped. As a matter of fact, it appears that both boys are doomed to give up their dreams.
Is James’s fate to settle down in Grangerville, working with his ailing father in the printing business? Will Jack again be forced into drifting from place to place, following in his father’s footsteps, forever seeking?

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