The Special - Book Review

GoodReads Rating:

Book Review of :  The Special


The Special by J. E. Pendleton is a historical drama/fiction inspired by true events that transpired in the author's life. The book is set in post-depression America when the middle class had finally risen only to be thwarted by the horrors of World War II.

The book starts with the author receiving a  phone call from a stranger named Frank Mercer; a man who claimed he had once had a close relationship with the author’s uncle, Billy Pendleton. Even though they shared no blood ties whatsoever, Billy bestowed Frank a sobriquet – “Babe” and the nickname stuck by him forever. In fact, he insisted on being called Babe instead of Frank.

During the phone call, Babe told the author about his special bond with Billy and that he still had Billy’s prized possession, an old race car. It was in safe keeping but he wanted to bestow it to someone before his demise. To the author, the call was an opportunity of a lifetime, first, to know more about his uncle who had died heroically in the WW II and had always held a fantastical image in his psyche and second, to inherit the remains of the car built by his uncle and Babe’s father, Carl. Babe was an octogenarian when he finally got the opportunity to narrate this incredible story, rife with intimate details, to the author. The story left both the author and this reader of the book in awe of the short and extraordinary life of Billy Pendleton.

According to Mercer, in 1941, Billy hitchhiked from Texas to San Diego and found room and board in Babe’s father’s home and obtained employment at Consolidated. His love for machines drove him to build a dry lakes hotrod way before the term was even heard of. In his endeavor, he was assisted by Babe’s father, Carl and Billy’s love interest - a blue-eyed beauty, Sally.

Warm memories still dwell inside Babe’s octogenarian mind, memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate into a relationship with the author’s uncle. Memories replete with wonder, pain, anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and death.

Frank Mercer (Babe) related the story of the summer he spends assisting his father and Pendleton’s Uncle Billy building the race car as the most memorable and best part of his childhood.

As the car neared completion, the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred, pushing USA into WW II and everyone’s life changed forever. Billy was enlisted in the Navy as a machinist and deployed in the southern coast of England. The war at first separated them, but Sally refused just to sit and wait for the love of her life to return. Instead, she joined the USO to be him. In the midst of this tragic time, Billy and Sally kept their passionate love affair alive and secretly exchanged their marital vows.

            The author’s narrative style is engaging and presents scenarios that invite answers to questions such as how did Babe know such intimate details about Billy and Sally’s love story? What happened to The Special? Why Babe felt obliged to safe keep Billy’s legacy? The book is a page-turner and will pique every readers’ interest irrespective of their usual reading preferences. The book is about love, loss, tragedy, grief, and happiness and all are set with the backdrop of a true historical event, this makes this book an interesting read.  If you liked “Water for Elephants or The Notebook,” you will love Pendleton’s “The Special.”

It is a novel that wraps you inside Pendleton’s world before you know it. At the end of this story, I felt that we all seemed to be doomed to reaching life’s end and often being forgotten by our families regardless of how amazing we had lived our lives. This book helps to remind us that ordinary people have extraordinary tales to tell if we would just bother to slow down and listen.

The Special was the perfect mix of romance, humor, action, and history. It’s the kind of book the world needs to read, and I would definitely recommend it to everyone!

Reviewed by: Sakshi

About J E Pendleton

I am J. E. Pendleton, Jim to my friends. I write World War II era fiction within an historically accurate framework. My imagination creates the story and history dictates my timeline. I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. I have had an interest in automobiles and history for most of my life. I spent several years as an SCCA road racer and a lifetime involved with hotrods. It wasn't until after I retired from a forty plus year career in the telecommunications industry that I decided to pursue another of my dreams and write my first book. My book, The Special was born from my love of family, hotrods and history. These topics will be the center of my planned future works as well. In addition to my writing, researching, my old cars, I have my family to keep me busy. A wife, three married children and six grandchildren are a handful, but they keep me grounded and through my work, I hope to instill in each of them the same love of history I have.

Visit for more information on J E Pendleton


No comments submitted.
Be the first to comment on this book.

Book Review Request

Instant Grammar Checker is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to As an affiliate, this website earns from qualifying purchases.

Book Reviews of Featured Books

Daft Mejora's Infinite Madness (Or, How to Travel Near America with Friends)
Spies on Safari
Above the Ashes
Broken Pencils
June 17, 1967 - Battle of Xom Bo II