From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-- Peck picks up the action just minutes from where it ended in Arly (Walker, 1989) as Brother Smith is rowing the boy across Lake Okeechobee to a new life in Moore Haven. The boat capsizes, and Arly is left hanging onto an oar while Brother Smith supposedly drowns. He struggles ashore, only to be captured, branded, and forced into a work gang of migrant pickers. He befriends an old man called Coo Coo, and the two are hauled across the Florida produce fields for the best part of a year before Arly convinces his friend to escape. Things are looking up until the hurricane of 1928 hits; again the hero manages to survive. After more disasters, the book ends as he is once more poised for a better life. The pickers have only numbers, not names, and regularly lie down in the fields and die. The boy clings to the belief that if he can just reach Moore Haven everything will come out right, even though he knows its been wiped out by the storm. Arly is the only character with any depth; the rest are so lightly sketched in as to be more caricatures than characters. And ultimately, he seems more like a pawn in some master's chess game, totally controlled by forces outside himself and content to have it so. Peck writes powerfully, but one wonders how many readers will hang on through the catalog of catastrophe that is Arly's life. --Elaine Fort Weischedel, Turner Free Library, Randolph,
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
In a sequel to Arly (1989), the spirited young picker's quest for a new home and family takes him along a rocky road. After his boat overturns on Lake Okeechobee and his companion, Brother Smith, is lost, Arly Poole finds himself branded and forced into a work gang, where he makes a friend in old Coo Coo. After months of hard, unpaid field labor, the two escape and take up with a wandering evangelist. Then a hurricane howls past, and Arly and a few other stunned survivors are left wandering a devastated landscape. Peck dedicates this book to Florida's migrant workers, with many of whom he worked and spoke, and his picture of their life (as it was in 1928) is a vivid one; even more compelling is his account of the hurricane and its aftermath. Eventually, Arly hooks up with an older woman, Mrs. Day, and a young orphan, Tar; Coo Coo reappears (then dies in a gun battle that, compared to the storm, seems anticlimactic), as do Brother Smith and several people from the previous book, including Liddy Tant and even Binnie Hoe, Arly's beloved teacher. By the end, Arly has his family. A well-told story. (Fiction. 11-14) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.