Fourteen-year-old Mercer Buddie is a falconer-in-training wanting desperately to earn the Best Apprentice pin and prove himself to his father at the same time.
Mercer’s father, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist, runs the Buddie Bird Rehab Center. On their way out on a trapping expedition, Mercer happens to meet a girl in the pet store and is instantly smitten. She’s the prettiest girl he’s ever seen: gorgeous green eyes and “elbow-length hair the white-blond color of candlelight.” The trouble is, Lucy and her parents are members of HALT, a fanatical animal rights organization opposing mistreatment of animals, including the caging of hawks. Can a white boy in love with raptors fall in love with a girl who opposes everything he stands for? It’s a Romeo and Juliet–style quandary that turns ugly when members of HALT vandalize the Buddies’ rehabilitation center and release the birds. Mercer must take responsibility, do what’s right, and decide what is most important to him in life. Brunner writes an impassioned story with real-life moral dilemmas. Abundant details of falconry, the result of the author’s own falconry apprentice lessons (as explained in the acknowledgments), root the story solidly in a fascinating world new to most readers.
An engaging story of a young teen finding what’s most important in his life. (Fiction. 10-14)