4 out of 4 stars
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Cowboy Code by Louella Bryant is a sobering, coming of age novel. The story follows the life of 14 year old Barbara Grey (from her point of view), her mother and her little brother after her father passes away in a freak accident at work.
Doing her best to keep a roof over their heads, her mother acquires a job in the same paper mill factory that took her father’s life, causing Bobbie (her nickname) great distress, but she handles it with as much maturity as you can expect from a grieving teenager.
Bryant writes a compelling story and packs an enormous amount of life events in a single year. Bobbie handles most of her predicaments with grace and dignity, and she holds back her thoughts, rather than lashing out, creating fascinating internal dialogue.
I found the tone of the book to be quite somber, but in light of the circumstances, it was definitely the intention. There were many lessons to be learned, but my favorite part of the book was when they exchanged secret Santa gifts at school: Bobbie finds herself in a position to react with care and humility towards another struggling student and she handles it beautifully.
Using the time period of 1947, Bryant touches on vital subjects like poverty, war, racism, small town mentality, sexuality, family, love and growing up.
There are occasional sexual references, making this book unsuitable for children, but with it being from the viewpoint of a teenager, I think it is suitable for teenagers and an older audience. I would also not recommend this book to anyone that is sensitive on the subjects of racism, death or slaughtering of animals.
It is not a light read, and the melancholy atmosphere is rarely broken by something the character experiences. I found myself needing to put down the book every once in a while to lift my spirits with other activities. However I kept returning to find out what will happen next to the young protagonist. The story also progressed rather slowly, but it brought to light how slowly time passes in grief and youth. It was like reading a long, sad poem.
The book was exceptionally well edited, and I could not find a single error whilst reading it. I must also commend the author for not using any profanity. I cannot imagine rating this book anything but 4 out of 4 stars.
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