Tag Archives: young adult

Where the Red Fern Grows

By Wilson Rawls

Deep in the Ozarks, folks enjoy hunting. Young Billy Coleman knows in his bones that in order to hunt, he needs not only one hound, but two. His craving to own hunting hounds quickly grows into an all-consuming yearning. Coming from a poor family in the county, his parents cannot afford to buy him hounds, so he devotes all his free time to entrepreneurial endeavors, collecting enough pennies, nickles and dimes over two years’ time to purchase two fine hunting hounds. Right from the start, Billy develops a bond with Old Dan and Little Anne that surpasses the typical relationship between man and man’s best friend. Old Dan and Little Anne work together in their hunts, expertly tracking raccoons with the combination of Old Dan’s boldness and physical strength and Little Anne’s cautious smarts and cleverness. Just as Little Anne and Old Dan operate as one, so do they form an inseparable team with Billy. The hounds refuse to hunt without each other, and neither will they hunt with anyone other than Billy. Their committed devotion takes them on wild adventures in which they get the best of snow, winter, bullies, competitive hunts, and countless raccoons, up until the very end, which unfortunately comes sooner than anticipated and with staggering, unexpected loss and grief.

“Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls is a classic tale of a boy and his dogs. Although told from the perspective of a man reflecting on his youth, the narrator speaks with the voice and bright-eyed optimism of a boy who has just encountered the greatest joy of his life. From the perspective of youth, Billy takes on the responsibility of owning and caring for two hunting hounds, counts himself among the ranks of accomplished adult hunters, and faces the challenges of country life including forays into the city and standing up to bullies. As Billy immediately bonds with his dogs, so does the reader. Old Dan and Little Anne figure as central characters in the story and in the imagination of the reader, tapping into instinctual compassion for pets and making the dogs real in the minds of readers. Each adventure between Billy and his hounds becomes a story of epic proportion, told with excitement, suspense, and triumph, or, when necessary, loss. The innocence of youth strengthens the carefree tone of each adventure and does nothing to filter the pain of loss, perfectly capturing and portraying Billy’s relationship with his dogs.

Somehow I missed this novel when I was going through elementary school, but even reading it as an adult I found this book to be enjoyable and relatable. I knew from the start what I would be getting into, though I was still caught by surprise by how the book drew to a close. It was refreshing to know what was coming but not know all of it. This book is well worth the read, just be prepared with a shoulder to cry on and a big box of tissues.

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Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Last Olympian

By Rick Riordan

As if it weren’t hard enough to face his 16th birthday, Percy also finds himself up against the reality of the great prophecy, which spoke of a choice that could result in the continued survival of the gods, or doom both Olympus and the world. Kronos continues to gain both power and cronies, amassing an army of titans, monsters, demigods, and others harboring long-standing resentment toward the gods of Olympus. While Kronos’ forces grow and zero in on Manhattan and the Empire State Building (the modern access point for Mount Olympus), Typhon makes his way across the continental United States leaving havoc and destruction in his wake. Many of the gods come together to attempt to subdue Typhon, but others fight their own battles,┬áleaving Olympus undefended and the forces of the gods divided. Percy and his friends take up the almighty task of defending Manhattan against the army of Kronos. Even with the help of the centaurs, the satyrs, nature and water spirits of all kinds, and countless other allies, Percy and his friends find themselves scrambling and outnumbered. With dwindling weapons, strength, and hope, and rapidly approaching timelines, Percy and his friends prepare to make the final stand for Olympus and the gods.

“The Last Olympian” is the final installment in this particular series of Rick Riordan’s Olympic adventures. This novel continues in the same vein as the previous four, offering sarcastic observations amid lightning fast action, building tension up to the final pages of the book. In addition to the plot tension, Riordan also brings in other areas of tension, bring multiple dynamics into the storyline and characters. “The Last Olympian” centers on the conflict between mortals and immortals, whether they are gods or titans, demigods or utterly unspectacular bystanders. He also focuses on the dynamic between Percy’s growth as an independent, autonomous person, and relationship with his family, both his mortal mother and his Olympic father Poseidon. Not only does Percy call all the shots during the big battles, but he also faces more typical teenage difficulties like dating, all while remembering the promises he made to his mother. This novel also touches on dichotomies like power and powerlessness, destruction and creation, choice and fate, and many more. In the middle of all these adventures of epic proportion is the relatable, laughable, occasionally clumsy Percy who simultaneously inspires us to greatness while humbly┬áreminding us of the most important aspects of our shared humanity.

Again, not much more I can say that I haven’t already said about this series. This book, as with all its predecessors, is fun, entertaining, and a very quick read. Yes, I would still be willing to sacrifice some action to add a bit more depth to the characters, but overall, it’s pretty good. I enjoyed reading this one, and I’m sure you would too.

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