Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Small White Scar by K.A. Nuzum ****

This is another book for ages 10 & up that was nominated for the Mark Twain book award. I picked this one because it & 2 other books (see Finest Kind) all had to do with kids with developmental disabilities of one kind or another. It's fascinating that 3 books are written with DD heavily imbuing the story this year for kids--maybe it's a sign of the times.
Basically the story is about twin brothers Will & Denny. 15 year old Will is determined to leave behind his father's ranch in 1940 & make his way being a rodeo rider & ranch hand. The problem is that he's chief caretaker for his brother Denny, who happens to have Down's Syndrome. Their mother died when they were about 7, & their father has placed the burden of looking after Denny squarely on Will's shoulders. Will is tired of being treated like a child by his father, & tired of being tied to the ranch by Denny. He decides to run away to the rodeo in La Junta, the biggest one around, & seek his own fortune.
It's funny how I underestimate how well a first time writer can write. Finest Kind was the 5th or 6th book by that author, but it just didn't ring true. In contrast, K.A. Nuzum writes a remarkable book by dealing with the feelings that overwhelm the sibling of a child with DD. Torn between caring & irritation, you can feel the frustration in Will. Other issues regarding how DD were dealt with back when the story takes place are eye opening & very important also.
A very good book, well written & beautifully peopled.

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