Book Review: Adventures In Nowhere

7 Apr

Before Disney and far from the palm-lined Florida beaches, ten-year-old Danny Ryan is transplanted to a tiny community on the hyacinth-choked Hillsborough River outside Tampa, a place his older sister calls Nowhere. But for Danny and his best friend, the irrepressible Alfred Bagley, whose fondest desire is to grow up to be a junk dealer, Nowhere is where adventures lurk and lure them into more trouble than they can handle. More trouble is not what Danny needs as he copes with a family that includes a father sinking into schizophrenia; two sisters, one very ill and the other ready to run away with a shady boyfriend; and a mother trying her best to hold it all together. Adventures in Nowhere paints a compelling, imaginative, and often humorous vision of a time, a place, and a way of growing up, allowing a reader to live for a while in the mind of a remarkably thoughtful and intense boy caught at the final edge of childhood.


John Ames was raised in Tampa Florida.  He graduated from King High School.

John entered the University of Florida intending to major in drama.  After a season of summer stock, he decided he wasn’t the dramatic type and changed his major to English, eventually graduating with a master’s degree. He was a Ford Fellow. After graduation, he built a rustic house and lived for several years on the edge of a spiritual community located near Gainesville, Florida. John’s search for enlightenment ended when he decided that he was too far from a movie theater. He moved inside theGainesville city limits and taught English and film for thirty years at Santa Fe College.

He has produced and acted in numerous short films and videos, including the cable TV series the “Tub Interviews,” wherein all the interviewees were required to be in a bathtub. For ten years he reviewed movies for PBS radio station WUFT.  He has appeared as a standup comedian and has designed and marketed Florida-themed lamps.  He coauthored Second Serve: The Renée Richards Story (Stein and Day, 1983) and its sequel No Way Renée: The Second Half of My Notorious Life (Simon & Schuster, 2007), and Speaking of Florida (University Presses of Florida, 1993)

Interactive Map of Sulphur Springs, circa. 1915

Sulphur Springs images


My Impressions:

I grew up in Florida before the advent of Disney World.  Although Adventures In Nowhere takes place 10 years before my time, memories of my childhood came flooding back while reading this magical book by John Ames. Ten year old Danny Ryan, the main character, and I shared a lot of the same experiences:  swimming in a spring pool, riding bikes all over town without any boundaries, popping water hyacinth bulbs, exploring the wonders of a simpler Florida.  However, Danny’s childhood was much more complex than mine.

John Ames has produced a coming-of-age novel featuring the confusing and often scary life of Danny Ryan. Danny is a thinker, and as such, he is always contemplating the ways of the world — adult idiocy, sin, and keeping the family stable.  Danny’s family is definitely dysfunctional.  Vaguely aware that there was a time when the family was normal and happy, Danny  faces a sister, Ruth, with Hodgkin’s disease and a father that is unpredictable, teetering on the edge of madness. Danny’s mother chooses to act like nothing has changed, while his sister Loretta fights her way out of the home.  Danny has taken on the impossible role of keeping things calm and under control.  He is constantly on the alert for any change in the family dynamic that might trigger the wrong response from his father. But the harder Danny tries, the more things unravel.

John Ames keeps Adventures in Nowhere from descending into darkness with quirky characters and subtle humor.  More than Danny are struggling with problems:  Alfred’s father is overly strict, bordering on abusive, Buddy takes care of his alcoholic father.   But with the help of some caring adults, the kids survive, choosing to do the right thing.

Adventures in Nowhere is a beautifully written novel — a wonderful story of hope in hopeless situations with characters you will love, living in a special time in Florida history.

Highly Recommended.

(I received Adventures in Nowhere from Pump Up Your Book in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)



Adventures in Nowhere Virtual Book Tour Schedule


Tuesday, March 1
Interviewed at Virginia Beach Publishing Examiner

Wednesday, March 2
Interviewed at Literarily Speaking

Thursday, March 3
Guest blogging at The Book Faery Reviews

Monday, March 7
Interviewed at Blogcritics

Tuesday, March 8
Book reviewed at Write for a Reader

“The story pulls you in, takes hold, and doesn’t let go, even after you’ve turned the last page. Ames has written a winner. Open the cover and take a trip back in time with Danny; you’ll be glad you did!”

Wednesday, March 9
Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book

Thursday, March 10
Book reviewed at Southern Fiber Reads

“Written for adults, this book is a well-written account of a young boy in the final days of his childhood.  Highly recommended!”

Friday, March 11
Interviewed at Review From Here

Monday, March 14
Interviewed at The Hot Author Report

Tuesday, March 15
Book spotlighted at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

Wednesday, March 16
Interviewed & book giveaway at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

Friday, March 18
Interviewed at Beyond the Books

Tuesday, March 22
Book reviewed at Life in Review

“I VERY highly recommend this book! I read all sorts of books, but suspense and thrillers are usually my preference. For a drama to keep me hooked the way this book did, is amaazing! When I say that I hated to put it down, I mean that if I absolute had to put it down, I would still be thinking about it until I could get back to it. I was wondering how everything was going to turn out for Danny and his family, and his friends. The writing is so exquisite that I hung on every word. I could feel every emotion and very often it was laugh-out-loud funny. Other times I found myself just distraught over what might happen next. It’s what some might call a coming-of-age type story, but it’s a book about growing up that really can only truly be appreciated by adults. I was just sad that it had to end! I thought this was an amazing story and I hope you do too!”

Wednesday, March 23
Interviewed LIVE at Blog Talk Radio’s A Book and a Chat

Thursday, March 24
Interviewed at As the Pages Turn

Friday, March 25
Guest blogging at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, April 4
Guest blogging and book giveaway at Bookworm Lisa

Tuesday, April 5
Guest blogging and book giveaway at Night Owl Reviews

Wednesday, April 6
Guest blogging at As the Pages Turn

Thursday, April 7
Book reviewed at By the Book

Friday, April 8
Guest blogging at Beyond the Books

Monday, April 11
Interviewed at The Book Connection

Tuesday, April 12
Interviewed at Book Marketing Buzz

Wednesday, April 13
Interviewed at American Chronicle

Thursday, April 14
Interviewed at Blogger News Net

Friday, April 15
Interviewed at Paperback Writer

Monday, April 18
Interviewed at Divine Caroline

Tuesday, April 19
Interviewed at The Writer’s Life

Wednesday, April 20
Guest blogging at Literal Exposure

Thursday, April 21
Literarily Speaking April 2011 Book Forum

Friday, April 22
Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking

Monday, April 25
Book reviewed at Books and Thoughts and Adventures

Tuesday, April 26
Book reviewed at Books, Fitness & Other Stuff

Wednesday, April 27
Guest blogging at The Book Bin

Thursday, April 28
Book reviewed at WV Stitcher

Friday, April 29

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