The fragile, 1952 postwar tranquility of a young boy's world explodes one summer day when a leopard escapes from the Oklahoma City zoo, throwing all the local residents into dangerous excitement, in this story of a child's confrontation with his deepest fears.
... intimate ... Harrigan’s tale rings true; it engagingly draws upon family lore ... While the leopard is the elusive MacGuffin here, the story really is about the McClartys and Brennans at a turning point in their close-knit family life. Harrigan deftly catches the flavorful sense of a place and time as witnessed by a child: Grady watches and overhears much more than his family realizes, even if he doesn’t understand everything yet ... This story...was the one he really needed to tell.
... a deeply felt story ... Though the racial issues are unsatisfyingly relegated to a plot point, Grady is an appealing narrator, and Harrigan elegantly conveys the strength of family bonds. Readers who can overlook a few narrative wobbles will find plenty of heart.