When he yanks his duffel out of the car, Harley knows he's never going back to his old life of drifting around with his mother and her latest boyfriend. Joining forces with an improbable assortment of characters, Harley begins to embrace new bonds of kinship. A heartfelt novel about daring to start over, and the risks and rewards of forging a new "family" of one's own.
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Grade 5-9-Harley Nunn's mother has never been a big part of his life. But, when she abandons him at a remote Arizona campground, he is truly alone in the world. That night, while seeking shelter from a storm, the boy encounters a forsaken pit bull named Ish. When morning arrives, they are befriended by May, an older woman camped nearby. Recently deserted by her husband, she is on her way to her mountain home where she hopes to begin her life anew. May takes pity on the pathetic duo and reluctantly agrees to take them with her until other arrangements can be made. But, when they arrive at her home, they find it still occupied by her eccentric renter, Bill, who has managed to fill every corner with a lifetime accumulation of junk. And he refuses to leave. With the help of a young handywoman with a heart of gold and endless optimism, this curious collection of rejects strives to build a new family. Sebestyen's memorable characters learn from one another as they begin the healing process, dispose of the extraneous baggage of their past, and rebuild their broken lives. The family dynamics are authentic with failures to match the successes. This poignant story is beautifully written, and readers will delight in it. Sebestyen has once again brilliantly portrayed the triumph of the human spirit and the power of such timeless values as forgiveness, cooperation, trust, hope, and love.
Tim Rausch, Crescent View Middle School, Sandy, UT
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-9. Harley, at 13, has just parted company with his promiscuous mother. May, at sixtysomething, has just been abandoned by her husband of 40 years. A dog, later to be called Ishmael, has just been booted out of a pickup truck. A chance meeting at an Arizona rest stop throws these outcasts together, and they set off in May's car for a house she owns across the mountains. On their arrival they find Bill, May's tenant, who cannot move out because of his broken leg. Also resident are Singer, 16 and temporarily fatherless, and Bill's dog, Coo (get it, Bill and Coo). Harley the mistrustful reckons with Singer the optimist; Bill the junk collector meets his nemesis in May the "queen of clean"; Ish the aggressive circles Coo the tolerant. Only after an angry confrontation, which leads to a critical injury for Ish, can May and Bill and Harley look beyond their personal woes and make the compromises necessary to bond the group into a quirky family. Sebestyen redeems this too tidily balanced cast and too tidily contrived plot with lively dialogue, liberally laced with ironic wit. The keen depiction of Harley's obstinacy and need, and a wonderful dinner conversation in which Singer explains her views on vegetarianism and death, are ample payment for any problem of credulity. Elizabeth Bush
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Book Description Orchard Books (NY), 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Second Edition. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0531068390