Wagamese (Keeper N' Me) threads Native Canadian lore and spirituality into his generous and sentimental Western. Rodeo bull rider Joe Willie Wolfchild, eight seconds away from becoming the #1 ranked "All-Round Cowboy," suffers a career-ending accident that leads him to retreat to the family ranch, where his parents, grandparents and physiotherapist try to coax him back onto his feet. Meanwhile, 15-year-old Aiden Hartley, a disaffected city kid jailed for his role in a botched armed robbery, and his abused mother, Claire, are shepherded by a sympathetic cop (who happens to be a friend of the Wolfchilds) to the Wolfchild ranch, where they can mend their fractured relationship and get Aiden on a better track. Claire takes to the country life and to the Wolfchilds, who represent the stability she's always wanted. Aiden, not one for the "yippee cay-yay" stuff, locks horns with Joe Willie until the similarities in their warrior spirits bring them together. Aiden helps Joe Willie restore a '34 Ford pickup, and Joe Willie teaches Aiden to ride bulls. From there, the narrative grows predictably uplifting, and Wagamese's tendency to carry on (and on) about the romance of cowboy life wears thin. But the novel remains a worthy testament to the healing power of family and tradition. (Sept.)
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Ojibwa author Wagamese mixes cowboy lore and Native American mysticism in this affecting novel about the healing effects of family. In pursuit of a world-champion title, Joe Willie Wolfchild suffers a horrific, career-ending accident while riding a temperamental bull named C-4. His supportive family, longtime rodeo people, whisk him back to their ranch to recuperate but worry about his emotional health. Meanwhile, urban street-kid Aiden, sick and tired of his mother Claire's long string of abusive boyfriends, plans a robbery only to land in jail. Upon his release, a concerned parole officer finds a place for Aiden and his mom at the Wolfchild ranch. Claire takes to the stable family and wide-open vistas immediately, but Aiden and Joe Willie circle each other warily until they find common ground. Far from the laconic stereotype, Wagamese's chatty cowboys endlessly parse the western lifestyle and its macho code of conduct, but his soaring descriptions of the desert landscape, action-packed rodeo scenes, and reverence for hearth and home will strike a chord with readers. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.