RAFE by Weldon Hill


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Weldon Hill wrote very successfully about Onionhead: engagingly about The Long Summer of George Adams to which this is more comparable: and it is unfortunate that some of the adult concerns here (a common-law marriage; a strong hint of adultery; a happy; attitude toward moon-shining and beating the revenuers) may make this suspect for recommendation to young readers. Unfortunate since the adult half of this basically young adult story may exclude it from an audience which would enjoy it. The tale divides about equally between 12-year-old Rafe, an Oklahoma boy, and 40-year-old Pete Cornshucks, a Cherokee Indian. Rafe is overweight and the butt of everyone's humor. Since his father had a heart attack, Rafe's slightly older brother has been boss of the farm while his very young brother gets all the attention. On the next farm lives Pete Cornshucks, who has taken under his wing an itinerant widow and her four kids while her drunken common-law husband pretends to look for work . Much of the story richly reveals Rafe's everyday activities, his chores, his school days, his private situation in the family. Pete gives the boys a big old boat, which they fix up. The novel's climax has a truly weird reality as a flash flood hits the farm in broad daylight. All the characters are washed into desperate situations Rafe gets bitten by a copperhead...The book has some bouncy characters, has a tragi-adventurous climax and an unforced humor. It will probably be well reviewed and read for its simple, human merits.

Publisher: McKay