As the title suggests, Bobby Becomes Bob is a coming-of-age story. At twenty-eight Bobby Padgett has returned to his childhood home of St. Umblers, North Carolina. Before the reader learns why he is back or what his mission there is, we follow Bobby as his mind flashes back to the experiences of his childhood – from his first broken bone to his first love, Sam. He also recalls experiences such as finding a wallet on the sidewalk, working hard to pay for college, and twice avoiding the Army draft. As he grew up, Bobby’s parents taught him how to be honorable, a gentleman; they also instilled in him strong family values.
Bobby was drafted for a third time and quickly sent to Vietnam. This altered the course of his life. On his second day in Vietnam, Bobby and his squad were captured. In captivity they were brutally and repeatedly tortured. When Bobby was rescued by American soldiers three and a half years later, he was a different person. After spending months in Japan, Germany, and Washington, D.C. recovering, Bobby resolves to go by “Robert” or “Bob” from now on as a sign of his maturity.
When he finally returns to St. Umblers, Bob finds a street named in his honor, and Sam walks by him without recognizing her former flame. Bob realizes that his family and friends believe that he died in Vietnam, and that they have changed as much as he has. Although he plans to set the record straight eventually, Bob decides that this day would not be the day for his homecoming, and he returns to Washington.
Small-town North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s is vividly portrayed in this novel.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.