Farm Tough, by Patrick Scott
Rebel Without a Cause meets Huck Finn, shakes hands with The Haymeadow and runs into Lord of the Flies in this “coming of age” story set in Yuba City, California.
The narrator, now age 70+ and dying of cancer, looks back on his summer of 1955. A spoiled rich kid, Ryan was twelve years old when he’s sent to spend the summer with his grandparents while his parents sort out a divorce.
Once in Yuba City, Ryan soon meets meets a bunch of local guys with majorly limited vocabularies. (Someone didn’t bother to read our submission guidelines. More on that in a min.) The boys skinny-dip in the Feather River, pilfer railroad ties to build a raft, and jump off a bridge. Ryan tries so hard to fit in, he lies to his grandparents about an overnight at the river.
Not My Cuppa
I really wanted to like this book. I didn’t. Here’s why (short version):
This story takes a long time to get rolling. It just didn’t keep my interest. I do not have time to continue reading something that’s as dull as a spoon. Nor do I do, “Maybe it gets better.” Then there are the foul mouths, the way the grandmother is portrayed, and the paper-thin plot. It thrashes around like a whale at Avila Beach. Also, characters seem needlessly petulant, truculent, and predictable.
Pass the No Doze.
I was ready to bail at page 188. But decided to give it a second chance. About another 50 pages-ish. So, after the boys chuck rocks at a moored boat and break its windows (hi, “Captain John” and “George Wescott”), Ryan and a couple C Street boys are banished to a sheep ranch where they work their tails off for the weekend. (Big whup.)
Shortly thereafter, we hit Chapter 17. That was it for me. Yeah, I get that a “dog/wolf” killing sheep has to be dispatched, etc. But the Lord of the Flies stuff that follows? I am so outta here. Besides. I’ve had more interesting dental appointments.
(You can thank the sheep dog for the .5)
An Additional Word
Kimber: After a few chapters, Mom and I debated about whether or not she even wanted to review this book. Only reason she did was cuz she said she would. And I told her she had to. But she wasn’t happy about it.
“Can’t believe I wasted three days on that,” grumbles Her Crankiness. Cuz there are two things that’ll earn your book a one-way ticket to the nearest round file (trash can), right off the puppy chow:
- Mistreating any animal, especially dogs, or
- Crap of the R-rated variety (or worse).
Don’t Go There
So don’t even go there. Don’t waste our time. It ticks us off. It gets you on our Kitty Litter List. You don’t want to be there, okay? (I’m telling you this so you won’t hawk up a hairball when we pan your stuff because you didn’t bother to read the submission guidelines. Think of it as a public service announcement.)
Speaking of Which
For the zillionth time, as noted in the first line of our Rating System & Submissions page (for anyone who could be bothered to read it):
We review fiction and nonfiction books rated G to PG-13. We don’t have the time or interest in anything else. (Occasional exceptions may be made on the basis of artistic merit. But that is rare.)
Stay Inside the Lines
The novel noted above colored outside these lines. Often. And nothing tees off Her Crankiness like authors who can’t or won’t follow simple instructions or who misrepresent their work.
You’ve heard of The Wrath of Khan? That’s nothin’ compared to The Wrath of Mom. It’s reserved for authors and those who misrepresent their work and/or fudge on a book’s content. Like the guy who represented his “thriller” spy novel thingy as “PG-13” when it was really teetering on the extreme edge of R. To put it charitably.
Don’t Do It
You do that, and Mom will not be happy you’ve wasted her time. (Not a good idea. Trust me.)
Since you’re still reading, however, you’re smarter than that. You’re up front about your book. Its genre, storyline and content. You’ve actually read our submission guidelines. If you’re honest about that, we like you already. If you’re not, then off to the Big Kitty Litter Box in the Sky with you!
Are we clear here?
January 19, 2021 at 7:54 am
I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who is clearer than you. As for “Lord of the Flies,” I have never forgiven my school district for making us read that book from elementary school on. They never grasped that even though it has kids it isn’t fit for them.
January 19, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Thanks. 😊 Agree with you on Lord of the Flies. I don’t think it should be forced on any grade level. It’s a lousy book.
January 19, 2021 at 8:18 am
It is lousy, and it’s so traumatic and icky that it sticks with you. Even though you don’t want it to.
January 19, 2021 at 4:48 pm