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Trolley Days is the story of an unlikely friendship between two boys growing up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in its industrial heyday. Jack Bernard is the son of a mill worker who emigrated from Canada, Tom Wellington the son of the mill owner. Jack is shy and socially a bit awkward, Tom self-assured and smooth-talking. But for all their differences, the two boys have much in common. They love fishing, sports, and all manner of youthful tomfoolery. Each has suffered the loss of a sibling, tragedies that have affected both families deeply.
In the opening chapter a blizzard is approaching as Jack boards a train for the long trip to Boston. He has received a cryptic letter informing him that Tom is in a Boston jail. Despite a recent falling-out between the two, Jack still considers Tom his best friend, and he refuses to allow a snowstorm to prevent him from going to Tom's aid. Soon Jack will be plunged into a mystery that calls on all his courage and determination to solve, even as his friend's life hangs in the balance. To save his friend, Jack will need the assistance of Tom's sister, Anne, but that will require Jack and Anne to reconcile their fractured relationship.
Does friendship have its limits? Can bonds of trust, once broken, be repaired? Can we learn from life's tragedies and move on, or must we carry them like lead weights on our hearts forever? In Trolley Days it seems it is the young who bear the heaviest of life's burdens and must marshal the strength to free themselves and their parents.
"Trolley Days, Robert McMaster's first book, is a special gem of historical fiction. Young adults as well as older nostalgia buffs will enjoy this straight-forward read of life and times in an early 1900s New England industrial town...McMaster is a writer to watch."
- Winston Lavallee, author of "Dancing in the Dark" and "Tempest in the Wilderness"
"A joyful, engaging read from beginning to end...a masterful first novel. I hope it's not only not the last, but the beginning of a beautiful friendship with readers here, there, and everywhere."
- Mark Ashton, Southbridge Evening News
"Trolley Days is a wonderful book that will engage even reluctant young readers. My students loved the characters and were enthralled by the story. Trolley Days abounds with lessons on history, historical fiction, and growing up."
- Louise Millane-George, English Department, Holyoke Community College