I have planned to read Richard Ford for years, ever since I read about awards that he won for The Sportswriter. At a recent book sale benefiting the Iowa City Public Library, I found a nice paperback edition of his book Wildlife. The price and time were right, so Bonnie bought it for me, and I brought it with me to Texas.
It is a good traveling book, easy to carry, memorable to read. Ford hooked me in the first couple of pages. I did not read it in one evening sitting because I needed sleep, but I did pick it up in the morning and again whenever I could through a day and half. I had to hear Joe Brinson's story.
Wildlife is a first person narrative told by sixteen year old Joe whose family has moved to Great Falls, Montana. When his father, a golf instructor, is unjustly fired from the country club, he uncharacteristically decides to join a forest fire fighting team, leaving Joe and his mother alone for several days. His mother reacts badly, and Joe's life seems to unravel.
In his book, Ford suggests that we are all only a couple of stupid decisions away from disaster. The bad moves may not even be our own. Joe is not responsible for any of his bad fortune, and his words and actions are confused, as you would expect from a teen whose home and prospects are threatened. I really wanted his parents to straighten up.
Because Ford does not tell us what to think or really spell out why the characters do what they do, Wildlife would be a good discussion book. I also recommend it to teens.
Ford, Richard. Wildlife. AMP, 1990. ISBN 0871133482