A formula story of toughening-up, proficiently done. In a small Nevada town, 14-year-old Lyle Jeffries and his maternal grandfather, ex-mustanger Dan Cameron, are two of a misfit pair--reluctant, inept workers at Lyle's father's gas station, with a hankering for horses and the open range. But even Dan gets a little fed-up with Lyle's constant grousing. An aborted attempt to round up a mustang stallion by helicopter leads Dan, after wisely quitting the gas station, to offer his services to local big-wheel Hale Ransford--and Lyle, hoping to have the stallion for himself, gets to go along with Dan and his old buddy, lapsed-Indian Harry (the book's one interestingly-offside character). This being anti-romantic stuff, nothing works out as Lyle has dreamed. Dan doesn't take on at the loss of his long-time horse; Harry is killed to no purpose; Dan is ready to shoot the stallion (his reward will be the same, regardless). And when the stallion finally is captured, Dan and Lyle let him go--partly in recognition that he'll never be tamed. Neither does Dan go riding off into the sunset: he sticks around to pick up odd, cowboy-type jobs. So Lyle too is ready to recognize the realities, stop bristling at the taunts of the other kids (""Bring back any horses?"" etc.), and compromise with his father. It's more plausible than credible, more surface-naturalism than textured reality--but it doesn't miss a storytelling beat.