Eunice Banks,
The Trouble With Tom
(Outskirts, 2010)

The setting is a retirement community in northern California, with an assisted living unit, community center and cottages for residents able to live on their own. When a flock of wild turkeys invades, some of the human residents enjoy seeing them, and a few take to feeding the colorful birds. Not everyone is happy with them, though, especially when some of the turkeys start following people and demanding food.

One turkey in particular, a big male nicknamed Tom by the people of Whisper Wood, becomes a big problem, with aggression mixed in with his begging. The seniors go to the complex's administer to seek an answer, but wild turkeys are protected by law. The game warden is notified so that the turkeys can be trapped and moved elsewhere, but relocating wild turkeys gets a low priority.

What are the human residents to do? They really don't want to hurt Tom, but they also want to feel safe in their quiet community. Can they find a way to deal with Tom without ending up hurt or in jail? Can they have some fun in the process? Will Terrible Tom end up being a divisive factor or a unifying one?

What gives this book its charm? Two factors. The author's writing is a definite plus, with good word usage and phrasing. The action is steady and the 140 pages just fly by. My dad intercepted this book before I ever saw it, and read it straight through.

The other big factor is the author's gift for descriptiveness. After reading The Trouble With Tom, I had a clear image of Whisper Wood retirement community, and I felt I knew the characters. I think Eunice Banks, the author, perfectly captured the people in the book; my father served in World War II, and the people in this story fit him, his army buddies and his remaining friends.

There is a quiet humor in this book. It did not make me laugh, but I did smile often. Even the sub-title, "In which five gallant old men flout the law," reflects the tone of the book. Without ever demeaning her characters, Banks showed their quirks and eccentricities, while also describing their strengths. Their relationships with their spouses and with their friends rang completely true.

book review by
Chris McCallister

4 June 2011

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