At summer’s end, Tom leaves for Madison where he falls in with an unusual and ultimately destructive crowd. As the book approaches a climax, friends from home Grey and Callie reappear with trouble of their own, and Tom is forced to choose between old loyalties and a new sense of belonging.`
Morris masterfully captures the tension that binds and also separates Tomas and Pops ... rendered with subtlety, but are also deeply felt, which is one of the major strengths of Morris’ prose ... Tomas is a protagonist that young adults will add to their favorite list of characters. Older readers will also find this book compelling ... Simple Machines is a novel motivated by movement...They are invested in place like Steinbeck’s characters and are irreverent like Kerouac’s.
An unconventional coming-of-age tale ... the author might have done more to further develop this dramatic tension between home and away, as well as to explore the natural comparison between how one conceives of history, its role in our lives, and the way we use it (or don’t) to navigate the present ... Instead, Morris introduces two new elaborate plotlines [that [ in the end both seem overly-complicated and extraneous ... the conclusion is less the joyful triumph of place over experience so much as a slice of realism.