Once We Were Friends
Master storyteller Bryan Mooney incorporates multiple literary tools to produce a page-turning plot. During Mitch Patterson’s book tour, his literary agent proofreads Mitch’s recently penned novella. Entitled Summertime, Mitch’s story is set during the Summer of 1959, and zeroes in on the lives of twelve-year-old Davey Malloy, and his best friends, Sunny and Timmy. Better known as “The Three Musketeers,” Davey, Sunny, and Timmy are inseparable. Yet over the summer, their friendships become strained, especially when Timmy begins to exhibit strange behavior. Mooney’s latest novel is a never-ending set of stories steeped in nostalgia and terror.
While the bulk of Once We Were Friends centers on Davey and his unforgettable childhood relationships, Mooney includes a well-developed cast who, for the most part, appears to follow their individual yet concurrent agendas. Mooney’s story opens with Nate Hutchinson, a veteran lawyer who scrambles to get his last appeal in for a death-row client, and Sari Novak, a successful entrepreneur who is in the process of selling her tea business, before delving into a flurry of stories relating to Davey Malloy.
Mooney includes plenty nostalgia to catapult baby boomers to memory lane. Sandwiched between the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Mooney takes readers to a moment of relative peace and a simpler lifestyle in America. Amid ups and downs in Davey’s life, his environs are filled with all the tastes, sights, and sounds – enough to thrill a young teenage boy who is growing up in St. Louis, Missouri. Mooney’s aptly laced list of memorabilia includes various food, mom-n-pop shops, clothing, gadgets, and the great outdoors — all but a few examples comprised in a series of events during Davey’s 1959 summer that Mooney tucks in between character scenes.
Yet Mooney has other literary tricks that he pulls out of his sleeve, besides alternating character scenes among his seemingly detached cast. Shifting his narrative from third to first person (featuring Davey as narrator), Mooney also throws in the omniscient viewpoint to keep Mooney’s audience somewhat in the loop to outcomes while his characters remain a bit clueless to each other’s actions. Mooney’s scenes and chapters close with cliffhangers, thus the incessant page-turning effect. The end result of the literary combo creates a slow but stable apex that closes with a perfect ending.
There is no doubt in this reviewer’s mind that Once We Were Friends is bound to be a classic!