by H. Steven Robertson
Publisher: Rutledge Books Inc.
ISBN No: 1-58244-216-9
One of the purposes of reading is to discover new and exciting places. A story well told, will take you on a journey far beyond your land to meet people who are exciting and complex all at once. Yet, you must not be taken too far away that you are not able to understand the conflicts, the interests and the plot of the story. In essence, a great story is one that strikes this balance. This is precisely what Ranch Boy achieves.
I would call this a ‘feel good book’ that teaches you just that little more about what life in America is like. It is not a book that tells you about the destruction of society. It is not about divorce, incest, murder or unhappiness. It is a story of a boy who struggles and comes through with flying colours on a subject that most teenagers have trouble with – growing up!
The story takes place in Sebring, Florida in 1959. Robbie Duncan, and his family have just moved to this city and at 15, Robbie has to “Go get a job.”
Robbie finds a job on a ranch. Although it is hot, back breaking and dangerous work, he finds that he really enjoys it. Robbie learns to be a cowboy. Inevitably, he meets a young girl, is smitten by her and his adventure in trying to ‘grow up’ are both hilarious, touching and emotional. The way in which these stories are written is to the author’s credit: more often than not, you find that you are quietly encouraging Robbie with, “No, Robbie. Don’t do this. Do that…”
The language used is easy to understand. The words and phrases are not complicated and as a bonus, the author even illustrates his description with drawings … all created by the author! This is good for those who live no where near a ranch and what a Brahman Bull or a Cattle Prod look like would be beyond one’s imagination.
It is possible that the objection to this book is the fact that Robbie as a school-going-teenager seems to have indulged in a sexual relationship well before he should have. Indeed the girl that he chose was one who was already ‘committed’ to another. That said, it would be a fallacy to think that most teenagers today do not know or indulge in themselves. Therefore, to look at this in a positive way, the author is to be congratulated for being able to write about this issue openly and in the process also ‘guiding’ Robbie.
In all, an enjoyable read.