The 410 Club - Book Review

The 410 Club

Author: Victor Loun
Genre: Fiction - General
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date Published: December 26, 2019
ISBN-10: 1684333989
ISBN-13: 9781684333981

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Book Review of :  The 410 Club


The 410 Club, by Victor Loun, is a compelling coming-of-age story. Whether fiction, written as a memoir, or memoir written as fiction, The 410 Club is told in the first person by a spindly, blond-haired, young boy, Jasper Bartlett. Set in the 1970s in both a small rural town in Colorado and a farm in Maryland, the story captures Jasper’s emotional turmoil as he struggles to grow up. Haunted by his mother’s death when he was a toddler and his father’s withdrawal into alcoholism, Jasper becomes a friendless loner drifting through childhood living in a small derelict cabin in Colorado. His father exhibits little parenting skills, so Jasper is left to raise himself.

Jasper’s father’s parents own a large farm in rural Maryland, where he spends summers as a laborer, further isolating himself. Abandoned by his father, who returns to Colorado, Jasper reluctantly agrees to live with his grandparents where he again feels abandonment and betrayal. As he relates several of the experiences he has endured, the reader can empathize with the lonely, isolated and bullied young man. Jasper tries to fit in, struggling with relationships with other teens, his grandparents, and with his uncles. Often he is full of rage even to the extent of physically fighting with his 75-year-old Grandfather. Reluctantly he begins to confront his fears of failure, cowardice, and lack of skills but his underlying sense of betrayal affects his worldview and his sense of worth.

Many of his traumatic experiences will be recognized by readers. Gym class gave him a “perpetual panic attack,” the fear of being slammed into the lockers or being “popped on the butt with a wet towel.” He felt unnoticed by classmates, so he became a voracious reader.

The young teen is given an opportunity to escape on a cross country road trip with his Uncle Stewart. Through their frank discussions, Jasper is able to contemplate his past and discover how to forgive.

The author’s understanding of primal emotions of fear and anger enables the reader to sympathize with Jasper. The 410 Club is an unsettling novel about resilience and courage, maturing attitudes, and a quest to find forgiveness. This makes it an excellent young adult book.

The novel is a piercing look at both the light and the shadows of a teenager on the outskirts of regular society who has in different ways lost both parents. It’s a poignant read that illustrates the vulnerability of youth and offers diverse perspectives of growing up. The 410 Club is also a riveting and empathetic read about a real problem that sadly affects hundreds of thousands of young boys and girls in today’s world.

Reviewed by: Carole W

About Victor Loun

Victor Loun is a former high school English teacher who currently lives with his wife and sheep on a farm in Mancos, CO. His first novel, The Trudging of Wow, was published in August 2017.


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