Monday, April 13, 2009
HEART OF A SHEPHERD by Rosanne Parry
HEART OF A SHEPHERD is a beautiful book by first time author Rosanne Parry. It draws the reader right into life on an Oregon ranch and into the life of a spiritual family dedicated to the land, their country, and one another.
Brother is the youngest of five boys raised on the family ranch. Soon Brother will be gone to a high school boarding school, but for now it's up to him to help his father, grandpa, and grandma with the running of the place. As each day passes it seems he is given more responsibility. Brother decides that's proof that they think he's growing up and will soon be man enough to handle his share of the work. When news breaks that his father's reserve unit is about to be shipped off to Iraq, Brother realizes he doesn't have a choice. Ready or not, he will be the only one left to help his grandfather run the ranch.
With his father gone, he pitches in and learns how to handle everything from raising the bum lambs, literally lending a hand/arm with the calving, and making decisions like whether to use traditional branding or acid branding. Constant chores keep him busy, but he still has time to worry about the safety of his father commanding troops in Iraq. He knows he is not alone since many in the community have fathers, mothers, and sons serving their country leaving just a few family members to do what needs to be done here at home.
HEART OF A SHEPHERD is an interesting mix of young and old. The experience of the old is passed to the young when it comes to handling ranch chores as well as the rules of life in general. There is a strong sense of spirituality among the characters with the incorporation of a variety of faiths - Catholic, Quaker, and Baptist. It is evident that a higher power plays a major role in the lives described in HEART OF A SHEPHERD. The appeal of this book should reach far beyond its YA audience. I look forward to reading more by Rosanne Parry in the future.