by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
“You figgered I went back on you. Now there’s a thing ever’ man has got to know. Mebbe you now it a’ready. Twan’t only me… Boy, life goes back on you.”
I was mesmerized. I never wanted it to end.
You become immersed in the world of the Baxter family – Penny (Pa), Ory (Ma), and 12-year-old Jody. They live post-Civil War in the Jacksonville area of Florida on a small clearing where they subsist growing corn, sweet potatoes, cow-peas, and cane sugar; augmented by a dairy cow and plenty of hunting. Their nearest neighbors are their frenemies the Forresters, a rough crowd of four or five grown men with their Ma and Pa. Jody has a special relationship with his Pa; not so much with Ma, who is hardened by having buried too many of her babies. Half the book goes by until the main plot commences – Jody finds Flag, an orphaned fawn he adopts, after having longed for years for some little creature he could care for and call his own. You know how it ends.
These people know their land so intimately, they know their game, their predators, their weather, in a way like I imagine most people today have no idea.
It was absolutely beautiful. I love coming-of-age stories. I’m partial to those with girls, and this is a boy’s book through and through, but it was still about that magical portal between child and grown-up.
“Ever’ man wants life to be a fine thing, and a easy. ‘Tis fine, boy, powerful fine, but ’tain’t easy. Life knocks a man down and he gits up and it knocks him down again. I’ve been uneasy all my life.”