In 1959, two teenage brothers in rural Alabama are swimming in a pond when a fireball falls from the sky and lands in the water near them. When they come out, they are fused together, but nobody can figure out the cause. A doctor in New Orleans claims he can help them. To raise money for the surgery, they travel throughout the Southeast playing music. A wily reporter from Tupelo named Munford Coldwater follows their story as they meet snake oil salesmen and carnival barkers who try to take advantage of them. Filled with atmospheric music and setting, this novel mixes love, family, race, and political intrigue.
The Fireball Brothers is a coming-of-age story set in 1960s Alabama. It’s clear that this isn’t your typical ’60s Deep South novel, with several fantastic elements entering the story beginning on the first page. A fireball inexplicably fuses two brothers together, and the majority of the book is how the brothers and their family cope with this strange turn that their lives have taken. As the brothers and their family struggle to make ends meet and find a way to move on, other inexplicable happenings are happening in the background of the story.
The Fireball Brothers is a real page-turner, primarily because of the relationship between the brothers Robert and Wally. Having their lives turned upside down and seeing what that does to their relationship with each other and with their parents was probably the best part of the novel. I will say that, although I did enjoy some of the other random fantasy elements thrown into the book, I wish I had more context and explanation about how or why those things happen, though I suspect that those elements are there mostly for setting and flavor. Still, I felt like I wanted more at the end of the story.
If you enjoy storytelling similar to Twin Peaks, then you’ll love this oddball yet moving novel.
P.S. This book also has an excellent cover, and I’m definitely not saying that just because my sister designed it!
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