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A Wyoming woman must choose between principles and friendship. Roberta Shea, strong-willed daughter of a pioneer family, has given up her heritage--the Uncle John Ranch--and risked her marriage for her beliefs that her family's exploitation of nature is wrong. Inspired by an event in 1971 that helped push the enactment of the Endangered Species Act, this is a poetic evocation of Wyoming's high prairie country today.
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A first novel, pitting environmentalists against ranchers, that's suspenseful, wonderfully written, and remarkably free of didacticism. The Uncle John Ranch, comprising some of the best grassland in Wyoming, has passed through three generations of the Shea family, landing in the custody of Roberta, now in her late 40s. Disillusioned with ``the war ranchers wage against wildlife,'' she's transformed the ranch into a raptor rehabilitation facility. Though Roberta is sharply at odds with an ethic that values human survival over avian, she's grudgingly tolerated by nearby ranchers, whose connections to the Shea family run deep. Carl Drummond, a longtime neighbor, discovers that two of his sheep have been slaughtered by coyotes, and he recklessly poisons the carcasses to fend off predators and protect his livelihood. But when two poisoned eagles are found, victims of a ``collateral kill,'' an outraged Roberta is determined to find the culprit. The sad outcome is both inevitable and gripping. Meanwhile, an array of auxiliary characters are skillfully developed: Roberta's husband, Glen, a politician who once managed the Uncle John and now rues its alteration; Muirie, Roberta's 23-year-old niece, who arrives from California hoping to take control of her own life; Sherman, the local veterinarian, who shares Roberta's passion but struggles with her over the ethics of animal euthanasia; and Flo, Carl's wife, an amateur painter who unintentionally implicates her husband. Only the outside media, faulted for stereotyping this insular community, are themselves portrayed stereotypically. Even the recuperating birds have personalities and important roles to play. Pointed as they are, the conflicts on the animate side of this ecosystem are nearly eclipsed by the raw power of the inanimate world--the fearsome western weather and the intoxicating geography. Altogether, a debut informed by a palpable love of land and open spaces. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
YA. When Muirie "escapes" her California life to recoup at her Aunt and Uncle's ranch in Wyoming, she runs headfirst into conflict. Aunt Bert has sold the cattle and converted the remaining ranch to a bird hospital. Her fixation with preserving the area's winged wildlife puts her in direct conflict with her rancher neighbors, her husband, a state Congressman, and with Muirie who misses the old ranch. A story of an old way of life colliding with new concerns, Pleasure of Believing gives readers much food for thought. Should wildlife be killed, with taxpayers' dollars, in favor of domestic animals? If ranchers need tax breaks and price supports and predator control to make a profit, are they really making their own way? How can people be so unthinkingly cruel to animals, birds in particular? The various elements of the plot are pulled together when a frustrated rancher causes the death of a group of eagles. Some threads are left loose for readers to sort out for themselves. Young adults who persevere through a rather slow beginning will be rewarded with an interesting story, consciousness raising, and points worth pondering about environmental issues and interpersonal dynamics.?Carol DeAngelo, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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