New Review

New Review of The Boston 395 from author Jason Tanamor. I plan to return the favour this week.

Jason Derr’s “The Boston 395” is about a metaphorical train that stops at different points of your life to help you get through your current life. In this case, it’s James Scottsdale’s life. He recently graduated from college and is now living at home because he can’t find a job. He left his girlfriend Charlotte, his father is dead, and his sisters (Jaime and Jennifer) are succeeding in their own lives, adding insult to his injury.


On the Boston 395, run by the conductor, James discovers that he is not alone in dealing with quote unquote failures. He meets Miss Elliott, The Mustache, the accountant, and the Flower Print, each of whom struggle to understand the meaning behind the train as well as their own personal stops.

James’ stops involve leaving Charlotte, seeing his college buddies find jobs, and the last days of his father’s life. These events contribute to James’ current situation of living at home, unemployed, and at the mercy of his mother.

Throughout the story, James slowly begins to accept his own failures and uses them to overcome his most recent one. I really like these types of stories; the imagination and originality of Derr make for an engaging read. Derr’s writing style is very poetic. The sentences are short like song lyrics, giving “The Boston 395” a certain cadence that keeps the story moving.

As good as the premise is I thought the dialogue could’ve been more crisp or tighter at times. There are many occasions where the character exchanges are comprised with “um’s” and “you know’s,” followed by questions which I thought forced the conversation on instead of it flowing organically. Thus, disrupting the aforementioned cadence that often keeps readers in the story. This to me didn’t flow as well as it could have.

For example:

“Oh, she’s here. But, you know. High school senior. So, she’s not really here.”

“I can … I can come home. If … you know. You need me.”

“James. I’m … It’s okay, sweetie. Just … you know. I’m glad you’re here.”

Overall, Derr is able to relate an original story of what every person has gone through at some point of his or her life in a way that is both entertaining and easy to read.


This content was based upon a free review copy the Contributor received.


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