A Small White Scar
The summer of 1940 promises to be a dry one as a drought drags through Colorado. The lakes quickly shrink down to mud holes and the grass grows scarcer everyday, a definite danger to the Bennon cattle ranch. Fifteen-year-old Will Bennon could be a big help to his father; he has the skills and talents of an adult ranch hand. But his father insists on holding him back, hindering Will by forcing him to keep a constant eye on his twin brother, Denny.
Even though Will and Denny are twins, sharing a birthday is one of the few things they have in common. Denny has Down's syndrome; he can't read, can barely put on his shoes correctly, and needs almost constant supervision. Despite these obstacles, Denny can do many things. He collects the eggs from the hen house everyday, counting them as he goes. He can ride his horse, Scooty, though he often falls when dismounting. And he is always ready with a big smile to share.
But ever since they were born, and even more so after their mother accidentally drowned, Will has been weighed down with his brother's care. Will rather would be out helping his father with the ranch, using his riding and roping skills that he has practiced so diligently to be considered the man he wants to become. But his dad refuses to listen.
Believing his father will never allow him to be a man, Will takes his dreams a step further on his own. He must leave the Bennon Ranch. First, he will prove his ranching skills by entering La Junta Rodeo. There is big money to be made in the calf-roping and bull-riding events, more than Will could make in a whole year. Then he'd sign on with one of the other ranches, whichever one offers to pay the most after witnessing his talents at the rodeo. That would tide him over until the following rodeo season. Of course he wouldn't forget his family; he'd send money home to help out and eventually come back for a visit. But this was something he had to do, to get out from under his brother and start his own life.
A few days before the rodeo, Will sneaks away from the ranch riding his good friend and trusty horse, Deep. However, he doesn't get very far before he finds Denny following him. And it seems nothing will deter Denny --- not a rattlesnake bite, not the sudden thunderstorms, not the dangerously swollen river crossing. Fighting anger and resentment, Will finally allows Denny to ride along; somehow he will figure a way to get his brother home after the rodeo. What Will doesn't think about is how truly important his brother is to him.
K. A. Nuzum has written a beautifully touching story about the love and animosity between brothers, and between father and son. Set in the ranching wild west, A SMALL WHITE SCAR will especially touch horse lovers and rodeo fans, with in-depth and heartfelt descriptions of galloping through fragrant fields of sagebrush and desperately clinging to the back of a bucking bull. And most can sympathize with the anguish of loving someone who drives you a bit nuts.
Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on August 1, 2006
A Small White Scar
- Publication Date: August 1, 2006
- Genres: Fiction
- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins
- ISBN-10: 006075639X
- ISBN-13: 9780060756390