..".like a wonderful combination of Leave it to Beaver, Stand By Me, and Dennis the Menace, set in the 1970s." Minnesota, summer 1977. Eleven-year-old Jack just found out he's going to have another little sister, which means the family house isn't going to be big enough for them anymore. Now he has one last summer before he has to leave the one place he's always known as home, the neighborhood that has been his playground, and the friends he'll never forget. This is a story of friendship and love, of things gained and lost. But ultimately it is about growing up, and those special moments in our childhoods that help shape us into the adults we become. Excerpt: June 1977 "Did you hear me, Jack?" It was like time had slowed down. Mom's words floated in the air, drifting toward me. Stunned, I shook my head. "I said you're going to have another little sister." She smiled like she always did when she was trying to trick me. "Brussels sprouts are good!" she'd say with that same big smile. Barf. I already had two little sisters. We didn't have room for three. Scowling, I said, "Why do we need another one?" Her eyebrows raised like I'd said something that surprised her. This can't possibly be happening to me. She's gotta be wrong. "Maybe you're just gettin' fat." When her smile disappeared and her back stiffened, my face warmed, and I knew what that meant. My cheeks were turning red. Um, I didn't mean it that way. "Or maybe not." I pushed my breakfast around on my plate and kicked the toe of my sneaker against the table leg. "Can I go outside now?" She stood up and grabbed her coffee mug. "Go," she said, "but don't think this excuses your behavior. We'll talk about this more when Dad gets home." "So he knows too?" I kicked the table leg again, a little harder this time. Enough to rattle the plates and silverware. "How come you're telling me last?" Mom stopped and sighed, then turned to look at me-and stuck out her tongue. Waiting until she disappeared through the kitchen doorway, I giggled into my hand. I couldn't let her know she'd broken through my tough-guy shell. She was good at that. I flew across the dining room toward the front door. After pushing the screen door open, I hopped down the steps and grabbed my bike. It was where I'd left it the night before-lying on its side in the front yard. I lifted my leg over the banana seat and kicked off the clump of grass stuck in the metal pedal from when the bike had skipped to a stop. It left one of those gouges in the front lawn that Dad always yelled at me about. Oops. I planned to ride my bike around the block to my best friend Tommy's house. He lived in the big house directly behind us, but when I needed to get away from home-like when my sisters were bugging me-I always rode around the block to his house instead of cutting through the yard. It made it feel like I was farther away. Tommy was my best buddy. His hair was like a rat's nest, always tucked under a big baseball cap that he wore cockeyed on his head. He was the first of our gang to get a real grown-up pair of Nikes for his birthday. They were navy blue with a yellow swoosh, and made every other kid on the block jealous. Most of us still had to get our shoes from the kids' section at Sears or Montgomery Ward. He was twelve, and only a year older than me, but I called myself eleventeen to make me sound older. And maybe to get under his skin a little bit.
John Anthony was born and raised in West Saint Paul, Minnesota, and tortured by three younger sisters growing up. His family has always been incredibly close-and they still are. Raised with old-fashioned values he likes to weave through his nostalgic, family-friendly stories, his sisters also instill the same morals and values in their families. He enjoys watching his nieces and nephews grow into outstanding, caring young people. John worked in the IT industry until he lost his job, pivoted, and became a licensed massage therapist with his own successful practice in Saint Paul, which allows him to always meet new people. He lives with his partner of seven years in West Saint Paul.