Author: Murray Tillman

Publisher: Bascom Hill Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9820938-3-2

There are many lessons that children need to learn in life. Many learn by the examples set by their parents and other family member, others on their own. But, sometimes there are children that are not so lucky and they either succeed on their own because of their own determination to rise above their circumstances or they flounder and fall until they finally realize what they want in life. Trussell Jones, a teenage boy of 16 years old growing up Columbus, Georgia in the 1950’s is like most teenagers who had dreams of driving his first car, getting his license and having a girlfriend and of course doing and saying ridiculous things to get noticed. He has the ire of his stepmother Loretta who he calls the Shrimp Boat and the love of many people in this small town who try to help him survive without the love of his real parents and a family of his own. This brings me to my review of Meet Me on the Paisley Roof by Murray Tillman.

As the novel begins we meet Trussell on the day of his 16th birthday hoping that he can get his driver’s license and drive his stepmother’s car as his present. But a practical joke played with his two friends and the ire of his stepmom thwart his best-laid plans. Loretta, his stepmom feels saddled with her late husband’s son and does everything in her power to make his life miserable. Insisting that he goes to church and practices the piano in order to get a scholarship to college, Trussell feels hemmed in and plots to get away with the help of his two friends.

Working at his stepmother’s beauty parlor as the cleanup man several days a week he is caught up in the web of gangs and gang wars with Trudy who works at the shop and is angry with the gang leader and takes his bike as payment for not paying the rent.

We also learn from the start that Trussell has great affection for a girl named Ellen who now attends his church and who he had a crush on as early as in elementary school. Feeling unnoticed by her and by everyone else, he aims to prove to her that he is really not so bad and in the interim will learn some hard lessons.

Without a well thought out plan you often find many obstacles along the way and sometimes you fail in your efforts to attain your goal. Such is the case when Trussell and his two friends decided to take his stepmother’s car for a ride so that he could experience driving a car for the first time. What happens you have to read for yourself. It is typical teenage high jinks with a comical twist.

Trussell finds himself in many difficult situations. With the help of his two best friends and their father he manages to get away almost unscathed, but not quite. Trying to help a friend of his stepmother he manages to get in trouble with a gang and its leader over a motorcycle. His stepmother blames him for all of her troubles and thinks he tried to kill her by poisoning her food. His Aunt Cora who holds the key to some type of happiness for him wants him to live with her and leave Georgia, even though that is not what he wants to do. Then, there is Ellen the special girl who has not only won his heart but his respect too.

Trussell is really bright, intelligent and a concert pianist and quite knowledgeable in Classical Music and more. His problem is that he does not always think with his head and never has a solid plan that works when it comes to his situation in life and how to deal with it. His real mother died when he was young and his father died too leaving him in the incapable hands of Loretta his stepmother who believes in psychics, St. Francis and the spirits.

Every one has a place in this world and Trussell does too. Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that has to be completed carefully not to fall apart and have to put together again, so does Trussell finally realize the missing piece to the puzzle in his life and where the last piece will finally fit and so will he. The final piece and what he decides to do with his life you will have to read for yourself.

Many lessons are taught by the author of this inspiring and book about a young man who was really wiser than his 16 years and who comes full circle in this book. From a confused boy who has no direction and no plans for his future to a young man who finally sees where his life is going and how his friendships with the Cassidy, Russell and their family helped him cement his future. As his Aunt Cora so aptly puts it, “ If this is God’s will for your life, then we will make it happen.”  

Breaking away from his stepmother, formulating a great plan and a totally unpredictable ending that will endear this young man and his friends in your heart forever. Mistakes are made; road trips that will astound the reader and make you laugh and wonder just where this young man is going, twists, turns and more. You have to read this book to know that children in the 50’s are not any different that children today. The times are different but what kids need is the same: Love, Family and Understanding. 

Real or fictitious whether the events in this story really happened, it will remind you that all teenagers have issues and need to find themselves whether now or in the past. This book is a must read for all young adults to learn that you need a direction in life and there is nothing wrong with asking for help in finding your right path. To learn whether Trussell Jones succeeds in getting all three you need to Meet Him On the Paisley Roof and just ask.