© Will Hobbs.
Like others of his I’ve read, this is a book by Hobbs about a troubled teen (a native American this time), Cloyd Atcitty, who is sent for the summer to work on an isolated Colorado ranch owned by Walter Landis, who lives there alone. Walter is old, his wife has died, and even keeping the bare minimum of crops planted is beyond him, so Cloyd’s help is welcome. Cloyd is hostile at first, and only after committing some spiteful acts of vandalism on the farm do the two begin to come closer. Cloyd comes to understand Walter better after hearing about the gold mine up in the hills the ranch owner once worked before his wife made him give it up as too dangerous. Cloyd suggests they go reopen the mine together, fulfilling the long postponed dream, and in the wilderness the two are brought even closer as they face hostile elements and wildlife, as well as the dangers of the old mine. Cloyd has found an ancient carved bear, perhaps made by his own people, and takes the bear as his totem, and in the mountains he encounters a grizzly, one of the rare few in the region. Other men are hunting for bears, and Cloyd takes on the extra challenge of misleading them to keep his totem safe, but will he succeed against the wily hunters? And what of Walter, working his mine alone when an explosive charge he set goes wrong?
Will Hobbs always tells an exciting nature-based story with great characters, and this is no exception. Recommended.