All-Time High Scores
Best Of 2006
Best Of 2005
Best Of 2004
How Metascores Are Calculated
Discuss Books In Our Forums
Stars indicate the most critically-acclaimed books.
The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid
by Bill Bryson
The bestselling author of travel, language, and history nonfiction works chronicles his own childhood growing up in Des Moines, Iowa during the 1950s.
Broadway, 288 pages
Biographies & Memoirs
All reviews are classified as one of five grades: Outstanding (4 points), Favorable (3), Mixed (2), Unfavorable (1) and Terrible (0). To calculate the Metascore, we divide total points achieved by the total points possible (i.e., 4 x the number of reviews), with the resulting percentage (multiplied by 100) being the Metascore. Learn more...
A great, fun read, especially for Baby Boomers nostalgic for the good old days. [1 July 2006, p.660]
Boston Globe Naomi Rand
A pitch-perfect, nostalgic, and tenderly ironic description of his youth...Wise. Somewhat innocent. This is a marvelous book.
Christian Science Monitor Chuck Leddy
Bill Bryson is such a funny and evocative writer that he can transform the least promising material into something memorably hilarious.
Washington Post Juliet Wittman
Bill Bryson is erudite, irreverent, funny and exuberant, making the temptation to quote endlessly from The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir hard to resist.
The New York Times Book Review Jay Jennings
While the pleasures of Thunderbolt Kid are less frequently spasmodic, what the book does effect is a continuous wry, nostalgic smile in anyone born during the 50’s.
The Observer Carole Cadwalladr
To be honest, the book doesn't need the Thunderbolt Kid and there's an argument that it would have been a better book without him. Bill Bryson the bespectacled, bearded subeditor turned bestselling writer is superhero enough.
The Guardian Ian Sansom
Easy, ease and easiness are crucial terms in understanding Bryson's humour. He has a natural-seeming style in which he doesn't so much tell jokes as let his sentences stretch out and relax into feet-up, contented good humour.
Boston Globe Katherine A. Powers
The book, which is very funny and bracingly uncharitable, is an exercise in hyperbole, the ideal trope for the United States during this time of monstrous fears (the bomb, Communism, race, juvenile delinquency) and gargantuan confidence in progress.
Entertainment Weekly Josh Rottenberg
The book is pitched at boomers, but readers of all ages will find evocative, Proustian nuggets.
The Globe And Mail [Toronto] Bruce McCall
Bryson zaps his story with about a million kilowatts of affectionate comic energy, conjuring slapstick scenes with Tom and Jerry kinetics and comic-book plots in hilariously hyperbolic prose. [14 Oct 2006, p.D3]
Booklist Laura Tillotson
This affectionate portrait wistfully recalls the bygone days of Burns and Allen and downtown department stores but with a good-natured elbow poke to the ribs. [1 July 2006, p.4]
Library Journal Alison M. Lewis
The larger world of 1950s America emerges through the lens of "Billy's" world, including the dark underbelly of racism, the fight against communism, and the advent of the nuclear age. [1 Sept 2006, p.155]
The book is held together by sheer force of personality--but when you've got a personality as big as Bryson's, sometimes that's enough. [10 July 2006, p.61]
The Spectator Zenga Longmore
Had he written a purely personal view of his youth and left out the bits explaining how 1950s America was the best country in the world, my chuckles might not so often have given way to groans of annoyance. [30 Sept 2006]
Daily Telegraph Tom Fort
As an autobiographer he is – for thoroughly creditable reasons – a dud. His handicap is that he is entirely free of the malice, the appetite for smut, scandal and unpleasantness – above all, the narcissism – absolutely essential to the form. What occupies Bryson's attention is the comedy around him. At bottom, I suspect he is not that interested in himself. And he is certainly much too nice.
The average user rating for this book is 8.3 (out of 10) based on 8 User Votes
Note: User votes are NOT included in the Metascore calculation.
Discuss this book in our forums