Stanley Young (review date 25 June 1939)
SOURCE: "Tough and Tender," in The New York Times Book Review, June 25, 1939, p. 7.
[Young was an American editor, educator, poet, playwright, and critic. In the following review, he favorably appraises characterization and language in Let Me Breathe Thunder.]
This first novel [Let Me Breathe Thunder] by a 25-year-old Negro quite definitely proves two things: That it is possible for a Negro to write about whites, and that William Attaway has a legitimate reason to face a typewriter in the years to come. His tough and tender story of two young box-car wanderers and their love for a little Mexican waif who rides the reefers with them has some of the emotional quality and force of the familiar relationship of George and Lennie in Of Mice And Men. We see two rootless men faced by hard reality yet still susceptible to dreams and affection.
Ed and Step, the major characters, represent in these times the vast army of drifting young Americans who grab their scenery from the top of a freight [train] and take their emotions from an empty stomach. They are apparently living from day to day and waiting for nothing. They are not professional hoboes given to talk about the "romance of the road." Their single thought is to keep alive, to push on over the next mountain, to pick hops in California, berries in Washington, back-doors in Ohio, until by some miracle they land and take root.
In New Mexico Ed and Step meet Hi-Boy, an inarticulate Mexican kid with...
(The entire section is 636 words.)