By Watt Key
Age Range: 9 – 12 years
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 18, 2012)
What to Expect: Family conflict, hero worship, loss of a parent, dangerous characters
Twelve-year-old Foster doesn’t trust the man his widowed mother has started dating. Even Joe, the dog, doesn’t like Dax. Dax has a violent, controlling streak, but Linda, vulnerable in her loss, doesn’t seem to see it. She is too worried about how to maintain Fourmile, the family farm, now that her husband is gone, and loneliness has made her dependent on Dax.
Foster hasn’t resolved his own grief about his father’s death. All his anger is locked in. He gets in fights at schools. Then one day, while Foster is painting the fence, a stranger appears in the road. Gary. He says he’s walking to Texas. He has a dog of his own, Kabo. Joe likes Gary, something not lost on Foster. When Gary comes to the house to get water from the hose for his canteen, things change.
Gary stays in the barn and starts doing odd jobs for the farm in exchange for meals. He’s wise. He’s kind and considerate. All the things Dax isn’t. Foster develops a case of hero worship. Linda warms to Gary. Dax knows a threat when he sees one. But Gary has secrets of his own, and things soon build to a frightening climax.
“We heard the trucks approaching just after noon. As usual, Gary stopped what he was doing and grew tense and alert. He watched them through the shimmering vapor of the blacktop until they were close enough for me to recognize Dax’s truck. I felt my stomach turn.”
I could not put this book down, once I started it. Foster’s “voice” felt authentic, both in age and in locale. All the characters rang true. The story felt all too possible. And the storytelling made this a page-turner from the very first paragraph.
This book will appeal to readers of ages 9-12 who relate to family problems, loss, conflicts with or worries about parental choices, and coming of age issues
Add this book to your collection: Fourmile
For more information, visit: wattkey.com
Fourmile was reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan.