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Pearl Harbor has just been bombed, and thirteen-year old Blue Awesome Easterly yearns to grow up fast, join the Army Air Corps, and become a hero. But one-eyed Aunt Spook warns him: "Beware the light!" She knows, because "the swamp people told me while I was in a trance," that Blue Awesome is fated to see events from the past-revealed in flashes of light only he can see. "This light never dies," cautions Aunt Spook. "And it never forgets what it sees." Blue Awesome's parents operate their funeral parlor/telephone business out of their home, Welcome Hall, in deep south Home Free, a small village not far from Swamp Ha-Ha, an area as "rural as raw peanuts." Blue Awesome's mother, Ethyl, more or less runs the businesses by herself because his father, Poordaddy, teaches in his private, tuition-free Classic Academy for Young Men. The Easterlys are getting by fine until the commander of the new Army base asks them to secretly embalm a murdered African American officer. When word gets out, local vigilantes turn their world upside down. But that's just the half of it. Take a pinch of Gabriel García Márquez, a dollop of Riddley Walker, a touch of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a smidgen of William Kotzwinkle-blend thoroughly, bake at high heat (swamp temperature would be best) and you have this entirely new confection, Blue Awesome Ascending. Prepare for a feast.