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ForeWord 5 Star Review:"Sedwick...creates authentic moments thatshowcase the American West in the 1930s. The time, place, and spirit of the erabecome as large a part of the novel as the characters, and are equallysignificant.... This is no heavy-handed historical novel. Rather, young readerswill be drawn into an engaging story that broaches serious questions aboutfamily, the American spirit, and hope. There is the potential for its audienceto get so much from the book that it could easily be used in a classroom toprompt discussion."
Publishers Weekly:"Out in the grass, a coyote pup ran incircles. All around him, he sensed fear. It wasn't snow, for the day was hot.It wasn't rain, for his tongue was dry. It wasn't darkness, for the sun glowedas red as blood." With this understated description, Sedwick lays thegroundwork for an absorbing novel. In the western prairie circa 1930,13-year-old Myles brings a coyote pup home in an attempt to tame it and keep itas a pet. Taming the untamable quickly becomes a theme as his father strugglesto fight the growing drought that is wreaking havoc with his crops. Sedwick'sprose is simple, but possesses an underlying beauty that captures the world inwhich her story takes place. The narrative soon shifts to the 21st century, asMyles's grandson Andy struggles to find a way to keep his grandfather's storiesof the prairie alive. While Sedwick's novel is geared toward teenagers, itshould also appeal to adults, particularly those interested in recent Americanhistory.
It's not often that I feel strongly enough to give a book five stars, but this book ranks among the best middle-grade historical fiction novels I've read. One measure of a book is its engagement with readers of all ages and I was as entranced by this story as any pre-teen boy might be.
Through the eyes of two boys, the story line bounces back and forth between 2002 and the 1930s, when Middle America was turning to dust and livelihoods were blown away with the topsoil. The protagonists are teenage: Andy the grandson of Myles Vincent, and Myles at age thirteen in 1930. The juxtaposition of their two lives is only one of the factors that makes this story intriguing as well as didactic.
When Myles saves a coyote pup during a huge dust storm, the boy's character comes to life and we join the incredibly hard times of a family scratching a living from the soil in an environment that seems personally hostile. More than seventy years later, against the background of this narrative, his grandson begins the process of learning who he is. Their stories intertwine like cords in a rope.
The most surprising voice in the story comes from Ro, the coyote pup that Myles bonds with. It's not only novel, but informative to see the Vincent family and their neighbors through his eyes. The boy's relationship with the coyote takes me back to Eric Knight's Lassie and Albert Payson Terhune's rough collies at SunnyBank.
The author has done a vast amount of research to make life in the Midwest dust bowl authentic and it shows. She also displays a command of language that makes the book a joy to read. I have been concerned about our young American boys' disinterest in reading and the negative effect it has on their education, careers and lives. I write for those boys and clearly, this author does, too. I enthusiastically recommend this book for pre-teen boys and everyone else.
Coyote Winds is a story of love, loss, growing up and dreams - often harshly tweaked by reality. The author parallels two timelines - the early 1930s and the early 2000s - and the teen years of a grandfather and grandson. Grandfather lives on a farm in eastern Colorado during the years of the Dust Bowl, an environmental disaster brought on by a combination of clear-cutting and drought that turned millions of hardworking farmers into beggars (See:Grapes of Wrath). The vivid closeups of day-to-day life enable to reader to feel, not just see, the losing battle of man against nature as well as the horrible scars inflicted on nature by human narrow-mindedness. Yet character development is what makes this book great. As grandfather Myles grows from adolescence to adulthood he begins to see the world and people around him in their true complexity while Lionel, his father, becomes increasingly embittered by his losing battle with the land. Meanwhile, in 2003, grandson Andy fights his own demons with the aid of memories of his grandfather. The story of Ro, the coyote, and Myles' corny jokes are a direct link between grandfather and grandson and a wonderful glue for the novel. I was, however, slightly disappointed in the ending ... I feel that a story as down-to-earth as this should have been resolved on earth plane and I would love to see the author re-work the ending ... perhaps by telling us what Myles' sister, who became a writer, actually wrote during this period. This book is exceptional! It is a "must read" for adults and teens alike and deserves a prominent place in American literature!
A young YA book that is beautifully written, showing the parallel lives of two boys from the same family, growing up seventy years apart. The perspective switches between both boys' points of view, plus that of a coyote (who soon captures your heart). The sister and the mother from the 1930s story show an alternate viewpoint to that of the men who want to conquer the land, no matter the cost.
This is an ideal book to teach kids about the Depression from a young teen's point of view. The boys' lives are connected by the history of their family and the history of the land. A wild coyote that the Depression-era boy adopts also binds them together over the decades.
I would also recommend this book for middle grade readers, girl readers, and anyone who loves animals.
I felt this book started off a bit slow, but it was well-written enough to keep my attention throughout. And as I read on, I quickly became invested in the characters. I loved the parts from the coyote's point of view, and the three points of view were tied together very beautifully at the end.
My main criticism is that the storyline in the 30's seemed to be richer and have more depth. The modern parents did seem a bit flat; they didn't come alive for me like Myles and his family. But I did feel that the modern storyline added depth to the novel and helped create a satisfying ending.
The emotion and theme build and develop slowly and make for a very powerful climax. If you have any interest in the Dust Bowl or coyotes, this is a must-read. It was a moving book for me, and one that I will probably think back on from time to time. The sure sign of a good novel.
Helen Sedwick has crafted an inspiring tale about Myles, a young man growing up in the American Dust Bowl of the 1930's. Her characters are deftly portrayed as multidimensional personalities. The plot weaves Myles' story with that of his grandson many years later. The setting becomes its own character with animal point of view segments that enrich the story. Sedwick certainly did her research as there is much that is not commonly known today about this period of American history. I can't remember when the ending of a story brought me to tears. This one did. I highly recommend it for YA readers or adults who want to read a book with substance.