Reviews: Classic NEast Novels

By Shannon McDonald

The Northeast might be short on bookstores, but we’re not lacking in reading material. Two great novels, Green Grass Grace and The Mustard Jar, are written by NEasters and are set in our area circa 1984.

Shawn McBride’s Green Grass Grace focuses on Hank Toohey, his band of weirdly matched friends and their escapades of the last weekend of Summer 1984 in Holmesburg. Though McBride switches up the names of streets and local landmarks, the descriptions are vivid enough for any true NEaster to identify. The novel’s plot is extravagant, but the characters are genuine.


Set during the same time frame, Tom Schied’s The Mustard Jar takes place in Wissinoming. Tom Clausen and his friends are fresh out of high school and enjoying their summer drinking at Deveraux playground and starting a band out of their basements. Schied uses the real names of streets and places, which is sure to evoke memories from every reader. The novel’s events are more realistic than those in Green Grass Grace, but definitely not boring.

Both authors’ portrayals of the NEast are accurate – they capture our pride, uniqueness and heart.

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