Oct 22, 2010
Doig, Ivan. Harcourt, Inc. Orlando, 2006. 978-0-15-101237-4
Told through the eyes of a child on the brink of manhood, the tale takes shape on the windswept plains of a Montana dryland farming community. Paul Milliron and his brothers have just lost their mother. Their father, a brilliant man and terrible cook, is trying to be everything he can for his family. Enticed by a want ad that claims, “Can’t cook but doesn’t bite,” he brings a housekeeper into his family’s life and a slew of unique and captivating adventures follow.
Doig’s prose is absolutely delightful. He is the finest of craftsmen as he brings the magic of boyhood and a turn of the century Montana farming community together. Though the story is purely fictional, purely magical, and purely enjoyable, the manner in which he brings it to life is an absolute masterpiece.
Centered around the town’s one room schoolhouse, each of the amusing anecdotes branches out like spokes from a wagon wheel. And that is perhaps one of the author’s greater accomplishments – the manner in which so many unique tales tie together. Readers are sure to be in stitches when they encounter the celebrated backwards race that put an end to a schoolyard conflict, and they will mourn with the teacher when he loses one of his most surly pupils to a 16th birthday and an illiterate father. Spring cleaning, planting, sports, and an incoming comet also add spice to the story, all coming together in the life of a family of boys on the brink of growing up.