Where The Red Fern Grows- A Review

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On my version of Throwback Thursdays, I review a book that’s been around for awhile and tell you why you should read (or reread) it.

Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, was published in 1961, and introduced me to a world I had no idea existed.

I grew up in a fairly rural area in Pennsylvania.  My home was an old farmhouse without any kind of central heating system.  My bedroom had an electric light, but no electrical outlets.  We had a large yard that butted up to a forest.  I had heard that someone owned the land the forest sat on, but no one seemed to know who it was, so I spent my childhood roaming that woods.  I went to a regular school and had to walk a block to the bus stop in an area without sidewalks; I pretty much walked on the road to get there.

Where the Red Fern Grows is set in the Ozark Mountains, and Billy is a young boy who wants a pair of Redbone hunting hounds more than anything else in the world.  Billy and I had some similarities growing up; we both roamed the woods and spent much of our time barefoot.  However, while I went barefoot because I liked it, Billy did it because he had no shoes.  He doesn’t go to school, and when he happens to see a school “in town,” his mother gets weepy eyed because it’s her dream to send her children to a real school.

Billy’s world enthralled me as a child, and I’ve re-read this story countless times.  Although this is ultimately a sad story, it’s also life-affirming.  Billy wanted those dogs more than anything else, so he worked and saved to get them.  He lived a lifetime with those dogs, doing things he hadn’t dreamed of doing before.  It’s a story about ultimate friendship and sacrifice, about love and loss.

If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  I suppose it’s meant to be a kids’ book; after all, the main character is 10-12.  I don’t care how old you are though; this book will touch something deep inside you.  If you have read it, it may be time to read it again, or share it with a child.  Even though it’s set in a time and place many of us aren’t familiar with, there’s something timeless about the book.  I believe this is a book that should be placed proudly on your bookshelf and re-read every few years.  Pick a rainy day, curl up on your couch with a mug of tea and a box of tissues, and get reacquainted with this wonderful book.

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6 comments on “Where The Red Fern Grows- A Review

  1. Anita Ojeda says:

    I absolutely LOVE this book! For years, I wanted a beagle, even though I don’t hunt. The book can bring me to tears each time–even though I know what’s going to happen! Have you read Rawls’ book “The Summer of the Monkeys”? It’s another great book, but not as well know as this one.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this review. I have to say that many kids’ books are major tear jerkers. I can only imagine how this will get the emotions flowing.

  3. emmajasmine1 says:

    Thanks for the review! I’ve never heard of that book but will definitely look it up. I spent my summers in our family’s country cottage and it too had no electricity and I spent my time roaming the forests with my cousins. I love a good adventure story!

    • doreeweller says:

      I don’t know if it’s still a popular book or not, but it’s really good. I have trouble putting it down when I read it, and I’ve read it many, many times. If you do read it, make sure you stop back and let me know what you thought.

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