Seventeen-year-old Ethan Keller lives a simple life, spending his days working as a clerk in his small town's general store, and his evenings at his widowed mother's boarding house dinner table.
Ethan's never considered a life beyond the sheltered reach of a dutiful second son trying to keep his older brother, Willie, out of trouble, finding snippets of time to indulge his love of reading and dreaming of buying a colt or filly of his own some day.
All of that changes when a charismatic and persistent young cowboy named Travis Cain walks into his life.
Sensing a kindred spirit, Travis dares Ethan to dream beyond that which he's ever dared, and soon convinces Ethan to sign on to the Hayward Ranch's summer cattle drive. During the journey from Texas to Cheyenne, Ethan and Travis test the limits of their endurance, explore the bonds of true friendship, and discover a love that will eventually risk everything they hold dear.
In THE FILLY, author Mark R. Probst combines the tender beauty of love - be it the blossoming romance between two young men at a time when the only term to characterize their relationship came in the form of Biblical condemnation, the fierce protectiveness of families for their own, or friendships forged in the most dire of circumstances - with the gritty, bare-boned realism of life in the old west.
There were a few times when I was jarred from the narrative by an inconsistency of language, a bit of cardboard characterization among many of the novel's secondary players, and an ending that came too abruptly for my personal taste, but these factors were far outweighed by the depth and sensitivity in Mr. Probst's depictions of Ethan, Travis, and their relationship.
Reviewed by: Cat