From Publishers Weekly
This is a well-paced, vibrant chronicle of the trials, both physical and legal, endured by Steven Sharp, a farm boy from rural Oregon who, at the age of 17, lost both of his arms in an accident involving a defective hay baler. Given the emotional nature of the topic, Mishler does a fine job of telling a compelling story without indulging in purple prose or mawkishness. That's not to say, however, that he doesn't highlight the tragedy of Sharp's ordeal. After all, Sharp was an athletic, outdoorsy kid who was specifically chosen to run the baler because of his presence of mind and attention to safety. That Mishler never gets carried away with melodrama, however, may owe to Sharp himself and his nearly stoic reaction to his plight. The people of the community come across as real rather than bucolic stereotypes, and the dialogue, filled though it is with phrases like "I ain't" and "It don't," is not overdone. Mishler keeps the legal struggle between Sharp and the manufacturer animated, though it drags a bit at times, particularly since the crux of the issue comes down to one's definition of the word "off" (as in, had Sharp really turned the baler off before trying to clean it). The defense attorneys are not rendered in a favorable light, but they're hardly demonized. In all, Mishler offers an absorbing account of a tenuous legal battle and, more strikingly, a resonant portrait of a determined individual for whom some small measure of victory was recouped for all that he lost.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
At 16 years old, Steven Sharp was horribly injured in a machinery accident in his rural farming community in eastern Oregon. On the last day of his summer job at a local ranch, Sharp stopped to inspect the huge hay baler he had been operating. The machine suddenly turned itself on, catching his hands and, finally, severing his arms. The bucolic community, used to farm-machinery accidents, accepted Sharp's misfortune as a tragic fact of life. Sharp, stoic by nature, focused on recovery and returning as much as possible to the active life he had led before his accident. When his family learned of a law firm investigating the manufacturer of the hay baler and claims that the machinery was defective, Steven decided to join the effort to hold the manufacturer accountable. Mishler provides a compelling, heartrending portrait of a singularly determined young man and the tense courtroom drama that pitted farmers against a heartless multibillion-dollar corporation. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved