Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Bug Boy / by Eric Luper


Title:  Bug Boy
Author:  Eric Luper
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN:  978-0-374-31000-4
Year:  2009

Concepts: Great Depression, jobs, scarcity, poverty, incentives, wealth

Review: "Shabby" Jack Walsh had trouble shaking his unfortunate nickname even though he had used his new income stream to upgrade his clothes from the rags he used to wear. As a young teen from an impoverished family who exercised horses at the Saratoga Race Course, he earned next to nothing and often slept in an empty stall in the stables. But a promotion to apprentice jockey, a.k.a. bug boy, led not only to an enormous increase in earnings, but also to a great deal of attention from the press and the fat cats who had made betting at the track a central feature of their lavish life styles. He also caught the eye of the lovely daughter of one of those fat cats, a sharp young woman whose desire for success as a bookie risked endangering her scruples.

Set during the Great Depression, this fast-paced novel moves effortlessly between the excitement of Thoroughbred racing, the despair of extreme poverty, the excesses of abundant wealth, and the seediness of some of the gamblers and agents desperate for easy money. Caught in the middle and sorely tempted by the new luxuries at his disposal, Jack tried to remain true to his love of horses and racing while also coming to terms with a painful past. With some violent and sexual content, Bug Boy is targeted toward more mature readers who will undoubtedly enjoy the explosive plot and intense lead characters.

Review by:
  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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