Friday, July 20, 2012

The Younger Days

Title: The Younger Days
Author: Mike Hays
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Publication Date: March, 2012
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Even a decade after the Civil War, the evil deeds carried out in the Border War for "Bloody" Kansas are not forgotten. Hate and revenge still rule the hearts of some, while others wish only to forget and disappear. 
     In the beginning, Boy Smyth has a dull Missouri farm life and a burning desire to be an outlaw like his hero, Cole Younger. 
     In the end, Boy Smyth has five dead bodies and two burning buildings at his farm and the most feared man in the United States crying outside his front gate. 
     And that desire for the outlaw life? It's purged completely from his system.
What I Think: Do you know what a Bushwhacker is? Well I didn't until I picked up this book (they are outlaws that fight over disputed land after major conflicts, just FYI. Jesse James was one.). I knew going it that it took place 10 years after the Civil War, but I didn't know much else. So, when I began reading and Boy Smyth started talking about Bushwhackers and Cole Younger and train robberies I was intrigued. I immediately wanted to know what the history was and what the fiction was, so I jumped on the computer and did about 30 minutes of side research- this time period is so interesting! I had no idea that this border war continued for years after the end of the Civil War. 
     Once my background knowledge was sufficiently built, I jumped back into the book. It is not only about the history of border wars and bushwhackers, it is a story about loyalty, family, friendship, revenge, and faith (though not too preachy). 
     One of the things I liked the most about the book, was the father-son relationship that grew throughout. At the beginning, Boy Smyth didn't not really know his father, but through the events in the book, he became proud of and closer to his father. 
     And- MAN! Around page 50, just as you think you have the story figured out, something crazy happens! I couldn't stop reading. 
Read Together: Grades 6 to 8
Read Alone: Grades 6 to 9
Read With: Crogan's Loyalty by Chris Schweizer, Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen, A Boy at War by Harry Mazer
Snatch of Text: "I saw Pa and my family life in a whole new light. I think I understood better why Pa was the way he was. Understood why Pa didn't brag or tell tall tales like some of the other men around town. Still, I had the urge to shout up and down [the truth]. I also knew why I could never tell a soul and understood the weight of the promise I'd made to Ma." (p. 48)
Mentor Text for: Historical Fiction, Background Knowledge
Writing Prompts: Some time parents don't make any sense; however, they always have a reason for doing what they do- tell me about a time where your parents seemed irrational or unfair, but were really looking out for your best interests. 
Topics Covered: Missouri-Kansas Border War, Civil War, Bushwhacker, Family, Faith, Loyalty, Revenge, Friendship
I *heart* It:
**Thank you to Mike Hays for providing a copy of his novel for review**

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