The sequel to A Day No Pigs Would Die (1972) once again follows the young Robert Peck on his path to adulthood, but the strengths of the first novel -- plain people, simple language, and old-fashioned Shaker values -- are virtually parodied in this latest. The hero bears the author's name, and the action takes place in a small town in Peck's native Vermont. Told from 13-year-old Rob's perspective, the narrative begins with his father's death, which leaves him in charge of the land, his mother, his aunt, and $12-a-month mortgage payments that are almost impossible to scrape together even this early in the Depression. Next, their faithful, old cow goes dry and gets sold for dog meat. Then, their hard-working ox keels over. Finally, the worst drought to hit the area in years kicks in, and even the family's blister-raising efforts to haul water by hand from the creek can't save the crops. In addition to working his own land and going to school as often as he can, Rob helps out on a neighbor's farm and in a feed store until neither can afford to pay him any longer. When winter sets in and Rob is reduced to doing odd jobs for food and making a meal out of cracked corn intended for chickens, he remembers that "manhood is doing what has to be done" and sells the farm. In the three plumbing-less rooms above the feed store that the owner offers in exchange for work, Rob and his family are, of course, happy. Rob comes of age again. We haven't waited long enough for this book.