The Boys Who Woke Up Early

A. D. Hopkins (Author)


Playing cops was just a game until the bullets were real.

The gravy train hasn't stopped in the hollers of western Virginia for more than thirty years when Stony Shelor starts his junior year at Jubal Early High. Class divides and racism are still the hardened norms as the Eisenhower years draw to a close. Violence lies coiled under the calm surface, ready to strike at any time.

On the high school front, the cool boys are taking their wardrobe and music cues from hip TV private dick Peter Gunn, and Dobie Gillis is teaching them how to hit on pretty girls. There's no help for Stony on the horizon, though. Mary Lou Martin is the girl of his dreams, and she hardly knows Stony exists. In addition, Stony can't seem to stay out of juvenile court and just may end up in reform school. A long, difficult year stretches out in front of him when a new boy arrives in town. Likeable bullshit artist Jack Newcomb dresses like Peter Gunn, uses moves like Dobie Gillis, and plays pretty good jazz clarinet.

Jack draws Stony into his fantasy of being a private detective, and the two boys start hanging around the county sheriff's office. Accepted as sources of amusement and free labor, the aspiring gumshoes land their first case after the district attorney's house is burglarized. Later, the boys hatch an ingenious scheme to help the deputies raid an illegal speakeasy and brothel. All the intrigue feels like fun and games to Jack and Stony until a gunfight with a hillbilly boy almost gets them killed. The stakes rise even higher when the boys find themselves facing off against the Ku Klux Klan.

Product Details

$23.00  $21.16
Imbrifex Books
Publish Date
March 03, 2019
5.5 X 1.1 X 8.4 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

Award-winning A.D. HOPKINS has worked for newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina, and Las Vegas, Nevada, where he was inducted into the Nevada Press Association's Newspaper Hall of Fame. He is the author of The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas. A former fencing teacher and inner city Scoutmaster, he restored a 1972 Ford Bronco, which he says was easier than the other two hobbies. The Boys Who Woke Up Early is his first novel. Hopkins won the 2020 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Fiction Voice. Hopkins lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.


"The novel is serious, funny, even sweet and nostalgic at times. A coming-of-age story, not only for its teenage main characters, but for a town and a country being yanked out of the Eisenhower '50s into the Kennedy '60s while such vestiges of the old ways as racial prejudice and the Ku Klux Klan stubbornly hang on."--John Przybys Las Vegas Review-Journal
"You can read this novel and focus on the hell-raising confrontations between moonshiners, kids, and lawmen, on family feuds dating back to 1924, on the boys' narrow escapes from situations their sense of honor and their plain old stupidity get them into."--S.H. Southern Culture and Politics
"Narrator Christopher Carley inhabits this sublime coming-of-age story set in Virginia in the late 1950s-60s. Descriptions are so well written and rendered that listeners will feel they're actually witnessing events"--S.G.B. AudioFile Magazine
"A deftly crafted and unfailingly engaging read of a novel from first page to last, "The Boys Who Woke Up Early" showcases author A. D. Hopkins's impressive and distinctive narrative storytelling style. Midwest Book Review
"His novel is filled with heart and grace and a surging sense of wonder, while also lined with brutality and violence. A rare combination, for sure, but A.D. Hopkins is a rare writer."--Tod Goldberg, author of Gangsterland and Gangster Nation.
"It is an intriguing and educational fictionalization of an uncomfortably recent period."--Carolyn Turgeon, Broken Pencil Literary Magazine
"The story of The Boys Who Woke Up Early is in many ways a timeless American narrative of small town life, mischief, and growing up. I hope that the characters Stony and Jack lead by example and maybe even change a few reader's lives."--Hope Lee,
"Equipped with the grace of a fencer and the attentiveness of a journalist, A.D. Hopkins drops us into the world of teenager Stony Shelor, a blossoming humanist, would-be-detective, and hopeful gallant. Read it for the perfectly pitched turn-of-phrase, for the reminder that in every community, there are those fighting for the right and the true."--Laura McBride, author of We Are Called to Rise and In the Midnight Room.
"It's a coming of age during a time when racial tensions were on the rise, when the Ku Klux Klan were hidden sometimes in your own family and two boys playing at being grown men. It's like reading a memoir, a genuine picture of the times "--Lolly K Dandeneau, bookstalkerblog
"The novel has an abundant of history, characters you are involved with and engaging Boys you root for. Not a book you want to end. I loved it from the beginning and did not want to see it end."--Edna Gadoury,
"A rollicking coming-of-age tale, shining a light on the not too distant past of the Jim Crow South. With his storyteller's ear and reporter's attention to detail, A.D. Hopkins has created poignant characters and a plotline to match."--Sally Denton, author of The Bluegrass Conspiracy: An Inside Story of Power, Greed, Drugs & Murder, and The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World.
"Hopkins sensitively portrays white America's multilayered struggle to come to terms with racial equality at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. His characters range from the unremitting racism of the Klansmen to the teenagers reflecting and rebelling against the segregationist views of their parents."--Geoff Schumacher, National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement and author of Sun, Sin & Suburbia: The History of Modern Las Vegas and Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue.
"For nearly half a century, A.D. Hopkins entertained readers from Virginia to Vegas with an endless stream of award-winning newspaper features. Now he's made the jump to fiction with the heart-warming and harrowing coming-of-age novel...Hopkins' adventure story is filled with an authenticity of heart, a charming sense of humor, and important lessons in courage and friendship."--John L. Smith, author of Running Scared: The Life and Treacherous Times of Las Vegas Casino King Steve Wynn and The Westside Slugger: Joe Neal's Lifelong Fight for Social Justice
"The Boys Who Woke Up Early is all at once a coming of age novel, an action story, and a tale of social transformation of a southern small town confronting the early civil rights movement...Fast cars, moonshine, gunplay, and the Ku Klux Klan all influence life in the town of Early in the late 1950s. The America of today is sorely in need of this reminder, this reawakening of our minds and hearts."--Douglas Unger, author of Leaving the Land and Voices from Silence.
"Stony Shelor is authentically drawn as both a fighter and a thinker, making him an engaging narrator...Hopkins' understated narrative casts a thoughtful eye on questions of race and class, but at its heart is a straight up good, old fashioned, young detective adventure. "--Robin Flinchum, author of Red Light Women of Death Valley
--A.D. Hopkins