Sunday, January 12, 2014

Welcome to Gang Territory with Peter St. John

Some stories in life become great novels that are exceptionally written, adorn a library, or perhaps become a well-known movie. However, very few novels have the ability to captivate the heart and soul as Peter St. John has in his novel Gang Territory. This reader has been captivated, charmed, and fallen in love with a cast of characters that touch every aspect of the lives we each live. The story begins in 1940, a young boy arrives in the village of Widdlington to live with his pious spinster aunt after his orphanage in London was bombed. The struggles obtained in a new community build relationships and sculpt one's faith to give example to some of the complexities that Peter St John has emphasized in his novel, Gang Territory.

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Many of the friends encountered along the way engulf the spirit of growing together as community, that although separated by boundaries or gang territories of the 1940's, teaches acceptance, love, and forgiveness. A common bond was formed with Archibald "Golfball" during government enforced milk breaks as well as the loyalty and advice of Jenno. A bully named Snaylor devised a contest of pissing over the bathroom wall and there is the Vicar who lives with secrets. The acceptance of Mr. "Dummy" Pearce with his primitive innocent ways is another of the concurrences of growing up in a small village.

Peter St John is best known for his six "Gang" books about children's gangs during World II. These novels spring from adventures in an English village as an evacuee from the London Blitz.

One of my favorite characters and exchanges was between Mrs. Rumble and Peter. Peter tells Mrs. Rumble that she was "one of the best Christians that I know. There's more love in this little house than in any church I've ever been in the whole vast convent where I was." An overflowing of tears and the embrace of the Rumble family who didn't attend a church, but lived the teachings of a higher power of love, goodness and human respect is a great example of true Christianity.

The London-born author's career begin shortly after the Second  World War, as a military pilot.
Furthermore, the gift of a soapbox derby cart that has a bit of every community member in the axle, wheels, and paint scheme, open the door to friendships that last for a lifetime. Examinations of behavior demonstrate the adult prejudice and past transactions that can bring about a change in the children of a community and an aunt who truly loves a little boy. The stories over lunch, on the playground shared with an orphan and stranger to an established community, challenge each of us to examine our own life and sometimes listen to the heart of another much like the cost and true loss of Mrs. King and Winnie during war. Sometimes we find out our greatest supporters are like Miss Hanger and Miss Ufford or a simple thankful prayer to God said by the author at bedtime.

Peter St. John displays talent, internal emotion, and interpersonal dynamics in his writings. His tale is one that we all share, each of us who grow into the world! Gang Territory is funny, touching, and full of love hidden in the heart that burst with each page. Get ready to laugh, cry, and fall in love with a great group from Widdlington, England! Peter St. John digs deeply into the soul and capriciousness of humankind! I highly recommend Gang Territory by Peter St. John!


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