Reviews for Fourmile
With intense bonding and angry, sometimes violent face-offs, this fast, spare novel will appeal to Gary Paulsen fans, especially boys. On their farm in southern Alabama, Foster, 12, is scared of Dax, his widowed mother's boyfriend, who bullies Foster and even hurts his beloved dog, Joe. Then a stranger, Gary, comes by, and he helps Foster fix up the farm to prepare it for sale. But what is Gary's secret? What is he running from and why? At the core of the drama is the hard daily work as Gary helps Foster paint the fence and fix up the house. With Dax always an ugly threat, Gary teaches Foster to drive and to shoot a pistol (Gary had a lot of practice as a soldier in Iraq). The plain, present-tense prose in Foster's first-person narrative--much of it in dialogue--about the rural landscape and daily work on the farm will hold readers as much as the climactic deadly action. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
A gun-toting stranger, a jealous boyfriend, a woman caught in the middle, and the likelihood of violence--it sounds like something out of the Wild West, but this novel is set in modern-day rural Alabama. Key masterfully plots the story of home, family, and fate, and readers will race to the conclusion, sensing the trouble to come. An original and satisfying coming-of-age tale.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
Twelve-year-old Foster is bereft without his father, killed in a recent accident in the woods. His family's two-hundred-acre farm, Fourmile, "was something I was molded around, all I knew, the best of him and me and Mother." Now, without his father, everything seems "still and quiet and lifeless," and things get worse when his mother's new boyfriend, Dax, shows up drunk and mean. But then a mysterious stranger comes into their lives and changes everything. He becomes a father figure for Foster, and together they fix the barn roof, paint the fence, get the old tractor going, and mow the fields. Gary even shows Foster how to shoot a pistol. But Dax is jealous of Gary and the increasing attention he seems to be getting from Linda, Foster's mother. A gun-toting stranger, a jealous boyfriend, a woman caught in the middle, and the likelihood of violence -- it all sounds like something out of the Wild West, but this novel is set in modern-day rural Alabama. Though Gary makes Foster's life "fresh and adventurous," danger is afoot, and Foster will do a lot of growing up in a short time. Key masterfully plots the story of home, family, and fate, and readers will race to the conclusion, sensing the trouble to come between Dax and Gary; throughout, it's the uncertainty surrounding Gary's identity and past that will keep readers intrigued. An original and satisfying coming-of-age tale. dean schneider Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
Key (Alabama Moon, 2006, etc.) has crafted another powerful, riveting coming-of-age tale that doesn't stint on violence to advance the action. Middle schooler Foster and his mother have been barely getting by since his father's death a year ago. The farm in Fourmile, Ala., is going to ruin around them without a man's help, and now Mother has begun a relationship with dangerous, unpleasant Dax, a man she seems powerless to keep from abusing both Foster and his dog, Joe. Then Gary shows up, hiking along the rural road. He's a young man with a secret past but is nevertheless kind, hardworking and ultimately heroic. Foster, desperate to find some steady ground in his life, connects to Gary immediately, even though in his heart he's aware that whatever is in Gary's past likely dooms the relationship. After Foster's mom spurns him, Dax begins an escalating and tragic campaign of retaliation. Foster's first-person voice is richly authentic as he gradually acquires the wisdom that will eventually lead him to a believable though heart-wrenching resolution to some of the crushing conflicts in his life. Confrontations between Dax and Gary are vivid and violent enough to disturb some readers, the violence expertly serving to define yet distinguish their characters. Deeply moving and fast-paced, this life-affirming effort is a worthy addition to the bookshelves of sturdy readers. (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 March/April
It's been more than a year since Foster's dad was killed in a tragic accident, and Foster still lacks ambition and motivation. His relationship with his mother is deteriorating and he doesn't like her new boyfriend. The farmhouse where he and his mother live is falling into disrepair. A mysterious vagabond, Gary, enters Foster's life. He bonds to Gary and Foster's mom hires him as a handyman. Foster delights in helping Gary, and his mother relies on Gary's abilities. Well-developed and complex characters deal with intricate and complicated issues. As a reader, I was drawn into these characters and felt their horror, pain, and excitement. The book is a delight from beginning to end. Situations unravel to a thrilling climax at the book's conclusion. Violence is not graphic, but is carefully understated, making for a more thrilling read. The storyline and unusually realistic characters make this much more than just a satisfying read. Dennis LeLoup, School Librarian, Avon Intermediate Ea t and Intermediate West Schools, Avon, Indiana [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format.] HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 August #2
Like Moon, the protagonist of Key's Alabama Moon, 12-year-old country boy Foster is a rough-edged hero with a barrelful of troubles and a large, compassionate heart. Foster is still grieving the death of his father when his mother begins dating another man, Dax, who scares Foster "in a way I didn't understand. Like somebody I'd find standing over my bed at night, closing those fingers around my throat." To make matters worse, Foster's mother wants to sell their rural Alabama farm, which her late husband "worked and saved ten years" to buy. Then a mysterious hiker named Gary shows up and offers to do some much-needed repairs. Spending his nights in the barn and his days fixing things, Gary wins the trust of Foster and his mother, but makes an enemy of Dax. As tensions between Gary and Dax mount, Key masterfully unveils secrets, leading up to an explosive climax that tests the courage of everyone involved. Suspenseful and introspective, Key's novel is an intimate portrait of the messy complexities of modern small-town life. Ages 9-12. Agent: Marianne Merola, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 November
Gr 5-8--As punishment for throwing a brick into Dax's truck windshield, 12-year-old Foster has to paint the fence that surrounds the Alabama farm where he lives with his mother. Dax, her boyfriend, is just plain mean and dangerous-even Joe, Foster's dog, knows that the man is bad news. Foster is out painting when Gary, a traveler on his way to Texas, walks up the road carrying a large pack. In exchange for minimum wage and a place to sleep in the barn, he stays for a few weeks while he fixes up the dilapidated farm. Gary provides a sharp contrast to Dax. Through his kindness and the attention he pays Foster, he helps the boy begin to heal after his father's death. When Dax turns violent, Foster's mom tells him she doesn't want to see him anymore, and the situation spirals out of control. This is a moving portrait of a boy coming to terms with loss and learning to survive on his own. Simultaneously poignant and suspenseful, the story will keep readers on the edge of their seats.Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY [Page 109]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.