What People Are Saying

“Adkins, who was raised in the Viper community of Perry County, completed his book about two years ago from his home in Antioch, California, just east of San Francisco, where he teaches physics and astronomy at a local high school and college. Though he noted during a recent telephone interview that he changed the names of the characters in his story, he estimated that between 70 to 80 percent of the narrative of The Boy Who Skipped is derived directly from his own experiences, which would land it squarely in the same genre as Homer Hickam’s Rocket Boys, the book that eventually became the feature film October Sky.

Ms. Combs is replaced in the book by Cheryl Caudill, a drama coach who assumes that her students can and will do their best. She expects as much, and gets it. And that’s as far as Adkins was willing to go in revealing during a recent telephone interview on whom his characters were based in real life.


Though a large part of Adkins’ book deals with his life as an actor on the high school stage, it’s what Miss Caudill (and Carol Combs in real life) was able to instill in her actors that really serves as the main thrust of the story.

“She challenged us,” Adkins said of his former drama coach. “She made us realize that we could be capable of doing excellent work that would stand up anywhere, and showed us that hard work can pay off.”

What Adkins was able to accomplish with his book is something worthy. Not only does he manage to relay an uncertain time in his life and weave together a formidable narrative that stands up to Rocket Boys and lends to the genre, but this book stands on its head the notion that geography dictates one’s lot in life.

In its essence, The Boy Who Skipped serves as a poignant recollection of life in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky in the late 1970s that is relevant in today’s society, especially for those who feel that there isn’t much for them outside of the mountains.


There is a very fine line that many in Appalachia walk between stagnation and progression that all too easily can move one way or the other, depending on any number of factors. Adkins captured that notion of uncertainty, and told a story that many of us know all too well. It is one that ultimately tells us that despite our own misgivings, there’s a little bit of Jeff Mason in all of us, and if we’re lucky, there’s a Carol Combs out there waiting with the same expectations of excellence, and with the same drive to see that we meet those expectations.”

Read more: Hazard Herald (KY) - The Boy Who Skipped A worthy story with relevance

Jeff Adkins has captured the essence of what it was like growing up in a rural community in the 1970s without falling into the trap of perpetuating stereotypes of Appalachian life. His book was a comfortable read, and certainly one I could relate to coming from the same background. Reading this book was like trying on a glove that doesn't look like it will fit, but then it does. Even though there were some instances of repetitiveness, they could be ignored after getting caught up in the storyline. I found myself unable to put it down near the end when the fate of the drama team was hanging in the balance. Anyone who grew up in a rural area, or anyone who's struggled to fit in somewhere for that matter, would enjoy reading this book.
--Lulu.com user kyklos7

The Boy Who Skipped is a coming of age tale, but it's also something more. The book describes its setting and culture in fascinating detail, giving you a mental tour of the protagonist's world as you follow him through it. The book has the depth and breadth of a memoir or a milieu story, but also has the memorable characters and engaging plot of a traditional novel. The suspenseful chapters put you on the edge of your seat, the emotions are palpable, and the protagonist's awkward, yet lovable, moments will resonate with anyone who has ever been a teenager. As diverse in content as its main character, this book welcomes you into its group of characters and their struggles and leaves you feeling as if you've made several new friends.

-- Amazon.com user Amy Claire

Hey everyone - I highly recommend procuring a copy of "The Boy Who Skipped" by Jeffery Adkins. It is an excellent read! It has made me cry, laugh and cheer out loud.

-- Max J. Herbert

© Jeff Adkins 2014