Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Before this book showed up in my bag of books to review for the school library, I had never even heard of The Yearling.  I wondered as I read it what exactly makes a children's classic - and whether anyone is writing books like this anymore.

The story line is simple - Twelve year old Jody is an only child growing up in the swampy wilds of Florida.  His mother is sharp, but loving.  His father is small, capable and tender.  But Jody is incredibly lonely till he adopts an orphaned fawn he names Flag.  Life is tough and Jody is forced to grow up and make some very hard decisions.

But that's where the simplicity ends.  The writing is detailed and vivid; the story alternates between a suspenseful gallop and a thoughtful meander; the characters are so well-developed that they could be your next door neighbors.  The Yearling is cited as a good example of a coming-of-age novel (see Bildungsroman) and I couldn't help but to feel as if I had changed along with him.

Unfortunately, I gave this book a thumbs down for the elementary school crowd as it is filled with blasphemy and some pretty colorful expressions using the Lord's name.  It made me wonder, though - is this book meant for kids? Would kids get it or enjoy it?  Remind me to pass this book along to my boy when he is 12 to see what he thinks....

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