All of us young kids agreed. To look at Jim, even being close to him, was scary. He was tall, ruggedly built, and stout as an axe handle. His long face with a protruding nose was covered by skin roughened by many years of work on his farm. What really got to us, though, were his eyes. Under heavy brows, they were dark and piercing. Not only that, his voice was coarse and unfriendly. Unfortunately, I had to see him on occasion because I was the only kid carrying newspapers in a “town” only four blocks wide and five blocks…
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No dad should ever tell his son he’ll “never be worth a damn,” but Mark Laverty’s dad did.
What the dad doesn’t know is that Mark has so firmly coupled his intelligence with curiosity that he knows how he wants to begin his future. Guided by that feeling, he graduates from high school, earns money at a factory job, and buys an old black Cadillac.
With neither plan nor schedule, Mark says goodbye, gets into his trusty car “Mariah,” and begins a journey he hopes will lead him to his ultimate destiny.
After weeks of wandering, meeting interesting people, and encountering unexpected and sometimes harsh realities, he meets Cindy, a waitress at her dad’s cafe in Montana. Although attracted to her, he leaves to continue his travels. Months later, and responding to his original feeling for Cindy, he returns to her, only to become involved in her family’s financial troubles triggered by bad management on the family ranch. His deepening feelings for her are interrupted by his parents’ sudden health problems.
Then comes a phone call that challenges him with a startling life changing event. He’s subjected to severe tests of patience, courage, fairness, and acceptance. Both smoothly and awkwardly, those qualities fuel his rapid rise from young man to young adult.
In the end, Mark is able to live the American dream, his reward for always insisting on doing the right thing.