On the shelf: ‘America’s Boy: A Memoir’ by Wade Rouse

By Lisa Boss, GRPL Main

And heeeeeere’s “Miss Sugar Creek”!!

Summers in the late ’60s, with the extended family at the idyllic log cabin on Sugar Creek in the Missouri Ozarks, always include a special 4th of July beauty pageant. Wade, now age 5, has always been a judge, when what he really wants to be is a contestant. So, taking matters into his own young hands, when his family comes back from fishing he announces in all his finery, “I am Miss Sugar Creek!” He’s decked himself out in his grandma’s red heels, his mom’s bikini (fitted with duct tape), jewelry, and has a tin foil crown, sash and scepter.

“The moment my family comes in, I wave my scepter and graciously thank them for their decision. They stare at me, blinking in slow motion, trying to act like nothing is wrong, like it is perfectly natural for me to be standing there in a bikini and heels, like a tiny boy Phyllis George.”

Eventually, his adored older brother, springs into action:

“Todd, a true country boy, moves toward me, shaking his head, grabbing the scepter from my hands and motioning with it for me to walk the length of the cabin.

“There he is, Miss Sugar Creek,” he sings off-key.”

I liked Rouse’s memoir so much that I read it twice in one week. It’s a short book, telling the story of one of those families that are both ordinary and extraordinary.

You might be fooled into thinking it’s just a humorous book at first, because Rouse is just rib-achingly funny, but, much like Bill Bryson’s Thunderbolt Kid, it’s an extremely well-written look at another time in America, involving three generations and their interactions within their changing culture. I hate to say trite things like, “I laughed, I cried”, but that’s exactly what I did. A must read!