Saturday, June 26, 2010
RECKLESS by Lesley Choyce
Riding his dirt bike through the forest is Josh's way of clearing his mind. That's where he heads most days after school. Although, he follows his parents' rules about leaving a note and wearing his helmet, he isn't always as careful as he should be.
One afternoon the sound of his engine and the feel of the forest floor beneath his tires leads him to be a bit reckless. Before he realizes exactly what happened, he is steering wildly to avoid hitting a bearded man directly in his path. His attempt to miss the man fails. Josh is thrown from his bike, but he quickly scrambles to his feet and to the side of the fallen man. The guy is dressed in rags and smells awful. Josh considers his meager first aid training and decides not to move the man. He checks to see if he is breathing and attempts to communicate. As he watches the man slowly come around, Josh guesses that he has stumbled across the Loggerman Creek hermit.
Much to Josh's surprise, the man gradually gets to his feet. The man questions Josh about his reason for disrupting the quiet forest, states "You need to be taught a lesson," and then lifting Josh's broken bike, walks off with it into the trees.
Losing his bike in such an embarrassing encounter means Josh can't mention anything to his parents. He talks with his friend Kyle and together they decide the man must be the Vietnam vet rumored to have lived in the wild for some forty years. Josh finds out the man has a few friends in the community who deliver supplies from time to time. He decides he will make a visit to the man and try to retrieve his dirt bike.
What follows amazes Josh. He discovers the man's name is Jonathan. His experiences in the war turned him into a hermit - distrustful of everyone and terrified of helicopters. For some reason Jonathan allows Josh to befriend him.
Many Vietnam vets have found it difficult to assimilate back into their old lives. Author Lesley Choyce gives readers a peek into Jonathan's tortured memories. Josh learns about respect and honor in his relationship with Jonathan. RECKLESS combines the fast and furious world of recreational dirt biking with the emotions and life-changing effects of war.