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Love and Country: A Novel Hardcover – September 22, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A series of unlikely friendships and alliances are forged in this piercing, meticulously descriptive first novel by Adams (after the much-praised story collection Any Small Thing Can Save You), set in a ranching town on the scrubby sage flats of Idaho. Fourteen-year-old Kenny Swanson has just moved to town with his mother, Lenna, who is struggling to support her son after a bitter divorce. Kenny's pilot father rarely sends money and only sees Kenny every few years; a fleeting visit at the start of the novel is followed by news of his death in a plane crash. Quiet, watchful Kenny latches onto Cynthia Dustin, a striking, independent high school senior who is hoping to escape to music school upon graduation. Kenny's other idol is Roddy Moyers, a local rodeo star in his late 20s who woos both Cynthia and Lenna. Misunderstandings are inevitable as this web of relationships grows ever more tangled, and matters come to a head when Roddy gives Cynthia permission to use his parents' empty house to practice piano. Cynthia brings Kenny along and they are discovered asleep together in the house, causing Cynthia's strict, brutal father to misinterpret their friendship. Adam's loving portrayal of Idaho ranch country ("the dark red cattle in the snow looked like a crooked line of stitches in a blanket") and her strong supporting cast of hardscrabble cowboys and local eccentrics gives depth and texture to her tale. Though the novel ends with a rather improbable act of reconciliation, Adam's storytelling is loose and loping, leaving just enough unsaid.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In a small Idaho town, new arrival Kenny Swanson is still off-balance from his parents' divorce. A high-school freshman, he is not allowed to pursue his passion for bronc riding because his mother, Lenna, can't afford insurance. Lenna fears her life is becoming the stuff of country songs and struggles to balance her mothering instinct with her own need for love. On the other side of the tracks, Cynthia Dustin, a high-school senior and an aspiring pianist, has yet to find a single foothold in her relationship with her hard-edged father. Linking them all is Roddy Moyers, a handsome, free-spirited rodeo hero. Though it might sound like a recipe for country ham, Adam's first novel is nothing of the sort. She writes with shimmering prose and emotional restraint about ordinary people and difficult adjustments. Her characters are dead ringers for their real-life counterparts, and, although this lyrical work ignores the modern West of sprawl, subdivisions, and Wal-Marts, Adam's rendering of inner landscapes is right on the money. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1 edition (September 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316735000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316735001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,369,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the first book that I have read by Christina Adam and I thought she had a great second book. I did read about Ms Adam after I had completed the book and see that she has passed away. I think that is a real loss, because I would have loved to have read more by her.
This is a story about a bunch of different people from teens to adults and how they all were working on issues from the past and present.
First we have Kenny which I believe was supposed to be the main focus. He arrives in an small town in Idaho with his mom who has recently divorced her husband an Air force Pilot. Kenny and mom have some adjustments to make in this small town. One of them being he cannot ride in or practice for the rodeo, because they don't have medical insurance. Then we have Lenna, Kenny's mom, and she is trying to make ends meet and also make sure Kenny is well taken care of. We also have a young girl called Cynthia and she is a very gifted pianist and has issues with her dad Earl and these problems seem to encompass a history of from when Cynthia was 5 years old.
There is also a young/old cowboy by the name of Roddy. He has ridden in many rodeo's and is getting old in the sport even though old is probably only 30. There is this love story in the works for these 4 different people and they all seem to entwine. It is an interesting twist in the story and you don't really know what happens in the end and that is why I didn't give it 5 stars, because I like things to be neatly tied up and I didn't have that sense with this book.
The book did have me in tears in spots, and that is why I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars. I would like to see a sequel to find out how Kenny and Cynthia grow up.
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Format: Hardcover
LOVE AND COUNTRY by Christina Adam
Christina Adam's coming of age story, LOVE AND COUNTRY takes place in a small town in Idaho, shortly after the Vietnam War. Kenny Swanson and his mother have just moved to town, and as any teenager would, he feels out of place. His one great love is the rodeo, and as this is a rodeo town he wants to ride. He promises his mother, however, that he'll wait. Without any insurance, his mother is being extra careful with what her son does for fun. Promises are made to be broken, as Kenny finds his way to the rodeo grounds and slowly finds his way into the life he's always loved.
In the mean time, Cynthia Dustin is another teen going through a lot of emotional turmoil. The relationship she has with her father is far from perfect. In fact, it's almost non-existent. What little communication there is between them seems to be filled with animosity and hate. It is difficult to ascertain why this anger exists, and Cynthia deals with her father's feelings as best as she can.
Relationships become complicated as Lenna, Kenny's mother, starts dating rodeo star Roddy Moyers. Kenny is very uncomfortable with this relationship, as it shows that his mother has moved on apart from his father, but it also forces Kenny to see his mother in a different light. More complications are inevitable with the fact that Cynthia has been one of Roddy's many conquests, and it does not sit well with her that Roddy is dating Lenna.
As Kenny and Cynthia become better acquainted, she becomes a bad influence on him, as he starts getting into trouble with her father and also with the law. A confrontation with Cynthia's father leads to a confession from a family friend that helps Cynthia understand why her father has hated her all her life.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an exploration of heart country. In her idiosyncratic, unique style, Christina Adam bounces from choice to choice in her characters' lives, often interrupting a crisis point or epiphany in single mom Lenna's life to focus on Cynthia Dustin, then coming back to Kenny. This style may not suit some readers. However, Adam does not deal in quick, easy wrap-ups. Her characters matter, and she wants us to pay attention to their ordinary yet extraordinary paths, hoping for Lenna and Kenny, whose bond is subtly, touchingly portrayed, to become whole, and for the song of LOVE AND COUNTRY, played by Cynthia, to be one of joy and forgiveness.
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By A Customer on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Following a nasty divorce from her Air Force pilot husband, Lenna Swanson accompanied by her fourteen year old son Kenny moves to Idaho. Kenny's only interest lies in the rodeo. However, he acquiesces to his mom's plea to not participate until she completes her probation period at her new job so they can have health insurance to cover any injuries. Kenny's loneliness intensifies when his father dies in a plane crash.
Lenna begins seeing rodeo star Roddy Moyers. Because he reveres Roddy, Kenny is all for his mother dating his idol. Roddy also spends time with musically talented high school senior Cynthia Dustin, over a decade younger than him. Kenny becomes agitated when he finds a treasure trove of his deceased father's stuff, but Cynthia's friendship helps him cope. Roddy leaves town for the rodeo circuit while Kenny and Cynthia innocently fall asleep together only to have her abusive father discover them lying down together. Now the troubles begin.
This low key small town tale is a deep look at individuals struggling with loneliness and a disbelief in love, but finds some solace with one another. Roddy finds love in fan adulation. Cynthia doubts it exists. Lenna believes that only her son truly cares for her. Finally, though he accepts his mom's love for him, even the adolescent Kenny ponders whether his father loved him and if so why did he remarry? Though the action is minor, fans of modern day contemporary tales will enjoy LOVE AND COUNTRY as Christina Adam provides a strong character study.
Harriet Klausner
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