As soon as the baby coyote is rescued by the boy, I’m sure it’s going to die. Isn’t that the way it always happens in young adult books—so much so that my youngest son refused to read any books with animals on the front because “they always die.” But Coyote Winds defies the rules and begins with the grandfather’s death, not the pet’s. Now Andie is left with promise he can’t keep, a boxful of someone else’s memories, and a haunting feeling that he’ll never be who his parents want him to be.
Coyote Winds is a tale of the wild—wild land, wild animals, and the wildness that sets a person free. Little Ro’s never tame, but he wins over hearts as the story progresses. Fierce loyalty, wild nature, and willing captivity combine to make him a quietly unsung hero as the tale of two boys progresses, one in the present day wilderness of teachers' tests and parental expectations, the other on the Plains of Colorado as the dustbowl advances. Neither boy’s future seems certain. Neither’s parents seem to understand. And neither child is perfect or even overly good and loyal. But a thread of hope runs through both stories like the song of the Coyote Wind, even as Andrew wonders why his grandfather left the farm and why his mother won’t talk about it. The sadness of the grandfather’s death is softened by the wonders of his life (and his incessant jokes!). And a teenager’s lonely tameness slowly changes as he starts to find his place in the world and his role in family.
Coyote Winds is a beautiful book which evokes past and present with ease, hides well-researched information in very natural character and plot, creates three vivid and clear points of view for its protagonists, and keeps the reader glued to the page as lands and peoples change. It’s highly recommended for middle grade and the young at heart—and even those older and ever-nervously worried parents among us.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this novel with a request for my honest review during its tour.