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Article by: Sarah Smitty

It only took 30-plus years, but fans of the Goonies may finally have their tastes satiated by this brilliant new coming-of-age novel. The following is my take on G.M. Savage’s debut novel, Jack Mathias and the Boonetown Bandits.

A ragtag trio of misfits set off on the ultimate adventure to save the summer that threatens to slip through their fingers. Three boys— Jack, Gene, and Edgar— team up in pursuit of an elusive 18th-century treasure buried deep within the woods just outside of their quaint stomping ground, Boonetown.

What ensues is a riveting, hilarious, and soul-stirring escapade that involves a charming cast of characters, an enviable goal, and a never-ending battle with the elements. It’s an action-packed story with twists at every turn, and inimitable slapstick wit to boot.

The author creates a vivid world of teenage angst, youthful zeal, and pure thrill, all within a picturesque natural setting. If one is meant to write what one knows, Mr. Savage is clearly familiar with (and passionate about) the landscape of mid-Atlantic mountains, rugged terrain, and the great outdoors. Flora and fauna make prominent appearances as our leading characters trudge through the greatest adventure of their lives.

Real, true adventurism is an ideal that has, in recent times, fallen to the wayside of common adolescent education. The qualities held within (courage, selflessness, problem-solving, to name a few) have been lost alongside it. Rather than learned skill and diligence, contemporary heroes get by with supernatural abilities and reckless abandon.

“Jack Mathias and the Boonetown Bandits” is a plea for the restoration of a paradigm based on integrity and truth. This is not a superhero tale of invincible champions with divine powers; it’s a story of friendship, teamwork, and the potentiality of the unremitting human spirit (should one choose to harness it). The author encourages the reader to both recognize their limits and work tirelessly to overcome them. Ultimate strength is cultivated through the humble admission of weakness, and this is a lesson that can only be learned actively, not passively.

This is a book intended for a younger audience, but there is something to be found for everyone within its pages. Whether you’re in need of a laugh, a retreat into the wild, or a reminder of what it means to be an ever-striving human, it’s hard to imagine anyone leaving this story empty-handed.

Long live adventurism, and long live the Boonetown Bandits! You can pick up a copy on Amazon. 

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