At the age of seven, Jason Benson first experiences the wonders of Atlantic City. Amazed and smitten, Jason decides his real life will happen here, in this magical shore town. Growing up in a Philadelphia suburb in the 1960s and 70s, he lives only for his summers on the boardwalk, where his father owns a pretzel stand. From a gypsy friend, the boy learns to juggle, and soon “Jason the Magnificent” entertains rapt beachside crowds with his skill and clever patter. He can’t wait to finish high school so he can move to Atlantic City permanently.
But his plans go awry. More than 20 years later, we meet him as a grumpy, distant New York copywriter who has never spoken of his youth. All his adventures on the boardwalk—and all the dreams he cherished there—remain a secret from his wife.
In deftly interwoven passages, Mr. Boardwalk traces the excitement and perils of the young Jason and the moral growth of the adult who must come to terms with the past he tried to forget. It is a dual coming-of-age story like no other—a tale of magic and reality intertwined.
I won this book from Goodreads. This is my unbiased opinion.
I grew up in South Jersey, less than an hour from Atlantic City via the Atlantic City Expressway. However, as I was born in 1982, I am unable to picture Atlantic City pre-casino days. While I have a love-hate relationship with A.C, I knew I had to read this book.
I really loved Mr. Boardwalk. I loved seeing Atlantic City in the way my Dad did as a kid. I only know the Atlantic City of my youth, with more casinos that I can count. I kind of wish the boardwalk was like it is then, more family oriented.
I did have some slight issue with Jason as I didn't think of him as a young kid. In fact, as I read the novel several times I was shocked by Jason's age when it was mentioned in the narrative. He seemed older, maybe because all the action that took place in Atlantic City revolved around him working in his father's pretzel shop or juggling on the boardwalk. Not something you expect from a young kid.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a great story and I definitely cannot wait to share this book with my Dad next time I head down to South Jersey...and who knows, maybe I'll visit the boardwalk while I'm there.