CROSS ROAD BLUES
Legend has it that if you take your guitar and stand at a crossroads at the witching hour, the devil will appear. He’ll grab your instrument, play a song, and hand it back to you. You’ll walk away an expert bluesman, but you’ll have to pay the price: your immortal soul.
The year is 1929. Deep in the Mississippi Delta, a young man named R J dreams of becoming a bluesman. R J is a simple farmer who can barely play guitar, but when he takes a midnight stroll, his life is forever changed.
A phantasmagoric reimagining of the life of legendary blues great Robert Johnson, Me and the Devil Blues follows the journey of a man who really did sell his soul to the devil. Why not come along for the ride?
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Grade 10 Up—Hiramoto has taken the few facts and all of the legends about the father of the modern blues guitar and spun them into a fantastically haunting tale of music, self-discovery, and redemption. The book opens with Johnson struggling as a plantation hand in the 1930s, barely eking out a living for himself and his pregnant wife. He hates his way of life, and his one pleasure is slipping away at night to hear blues at a gin joint. Although he tries, he doesn't have the knack for playing. Late one night, Johnson stumbles out of the joint and passes out. He wakes up with several months of his life missing, finding that his wife and child have died and that he's now gifted with guitar skills like no one has ever heard before. Confused and frightened, he sets out on the road, where he's befriended by the charismatic thief Clyde Barrow. The two journey through the darker corners of southern America, all the while confronting racism, violence, drug abuse, and religion. Hiramoto's black-and-white art is quite different from what most readers are used to in manga. Lacking most of the cartoony devices, his realistic approach relies on strong storytelling and powerful facial expressions to get his ideas across. The volume ends on a cliff-hanger, hinting that future tales will bring even more of an emotional punch. The music and horror aspects will provide the immediate draw for readers, but Hiramoto's well-developed, mature storytelling makes this a series to watch.—Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA
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