Jan Stafford Kellis

The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins

The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins

Our latest Stamp of Approval winner:


Jeanine Cummins spoke at Lake Superior State University last winter, and I was lucky enough to attend her presentation. I brought Anonymous Bookworm Angie with me, and Angie purchased this book that night.

Cummins plops you down in 1950’s Ireland, where Christy tells his own coming-of-age story. It begins with the death of his grandfather, and the slow spilling of long-held family secrets. Christy and his family are travellers—gypsies—who live on the road in wagons, supporting themselves through trades, temporary labor, and repairing porcelain or metalwork. Christy is one of the luckier ones, as he learned to read, and this helps him when he finds part of a newspaper clipping containing a photograph of his mother, who died in childbirth. Christy and his cousin Martin are enrolled in a Catholic school so they can take their first Communion, and Christy befriends a local lending library clerk in his quest for the truth about his mother.
Cummins crafts compelling storylines, and even the minor characters are so realistic I would recognize them on the street.

Christy’s story will stay with me for a long time as I move through my own life.

I’m still in the final stages of editing my newest book, The Sunshine Room. This book has taken the longest to write, it has undergone the most rewrites and rearrangements, and it is a completely different book than the one I’d envisioned when I started.

Featured Recipe: Maple-Glazed Acorn Squash

It’s fast, fun, easy, and elegant. Scrub the squash well before slicing it–you can eat the skin! I told you it was fun.

1 small acorn squash (2  to 2.5 pounds)
1/4 cup olive oil
2.5 Tablespoons maple syrup

1.5 Tablespoons Sriracha or hot sauce
Fresh ground salt and pepper

Turn oven broiler on high, and place oven rack 6-7 inches from the flame or heating element.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise (stem to stern), scoop out the seeds, and slice into thin half-moons (about 1/3 inch wide). Spray a 9″x13″ baking sheet with cooking spray, and place the half-moons in an even layer.

Stir the oil, syrup and Sriracha or hot sauce together and drizzle over the squash. Season with salt and pepper.

Broil until slightly browned and warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Serve warm. Goes well with rice dishes and looks elegant placed next to a slice of quiche.