The differing worlds of two boys come together in this intriguing novel in poems set in rural Ohio.
Rosen, a talented poet with a penchant for haiku (The Hound Dog’s Haiku, 2011, etc.), here stretches in a more narrative form to show a slightly older crowd that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. The story begins as 13-year-old Perry makes the train trip from his grandmother’s for his weekly visit with his mother. Captured by the farm landscape flying by his window, Perry notes that “Nothing’s for keeps,” and longs for more permanence in what feels like a very transitory life. He is waiting for his father, missing in action in Vietnam, to return; for his sister, who’s left the fold to promote world peace, to respond to his letters; for his mother to finish nursing school so they can resume the life they knew prior to his father’s going to war. Watching that same train, whose tracks bisect his family’s farm, is 9-year-old Steve, who feels trapped by the constancy of his doting parents and farm chores and wishes he could ride that train to exotic locales, recognizing all the while, though, that “coming home has to be a part / of going away.” Cows straying from Steve’s pasture bring the two boys together briefly for a reality check, but mostly the novel’s poems alternate between the voices of these young foils, adding a refreshing immediacy to their intimate reflections on home life and the nature of happiness.
A thoughtful, beautifully image-laden tale of learning how to appreciate what one has. (Poetry. 11 & up)