The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

About the book

Some say that the first hint that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came when his mother sent him to school in lime-green Capri pants. Others think it all started with his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people’s hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman. Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’ In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about growing up in a specific time and place. But in Bryson’s hands, it becomes everyone’s story, one that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.

Reviewed by Biscuits, Books and Banter Reading Group:

 All members found something in the book that made them laugh. Really appealed to those who also grew up in 1950’s but even younger members liked the mix of historical fact and human life story.

Star rating: ***

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2 thoughts on “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson”

  1. Review by Museum Book Group:
    This book was thoroughly enjoyed by our group. It was interesting to read of an American childhood and its freedom and education within a touring family. We are all of an age to remember the 1950’s and how our lives were shaped.
    Star rating: ****

  2. Review by Cambridge Reading Group:
    A bit like the curate’s egg we all felt it was good in parts but overall we felt he was trying too hard to impress the reader. Perhaps a book the reader dips into rather than reads in one go as generally we felt it was a bit ‘sameish’.
    Star rating: **

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