My adult cousin gave me this book when I was about ten. We had not spent much time together, but she apparently had me figured out. I found the book spellbinding, although it was hard to say why. I recently reread it, and still appreciate its simplistic realism. Saroyan tells us of everyday dreams and anguish and triumph and tragedy, without an ounce of extremism or melodrama. "The Human Comedy" is perfectly real, and utterly memorable, as well as being a very well-written book.
The place is Ithaca, in California's San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley's -- a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America's second-generation immigrants.. In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as delivering his messages of wartime death, love, and money brings him face-to-face with human emotion at its most naked and raw.