Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: Trout Summer

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Trout Summer

Author: Jane Leslie Conly

Date: 1995

Publisher: Apple / Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-93975-0

Length: 234 pages

Quote: “We thought we knew who he was, but we were wrong.”

As children of divorce, Shana and Cody have to move to the city with their mother. Naturally they’re not happy even in a “nice” suburb, so their mother finds a cheap little country “cabin” where the children can spend the summer and weekends. There they spend more time on their own, in the woods, than they did while living in the country, and encounter old Mr. Henry Luck, who claims to be a park ranger and permits them to fish and hang out with him.

Henry has relatives who think, as so many people do, that love and loyalty require us to “take care of” old people, not allow them to live alone but drag them into nice new “homes” where their physical needs can be looked after. Henry is not that sort of old person. He does get into a dangerous physical situation, in which he has to depend on two teenagers he’s known only a few months.

The resulting whitewater adventure is very scary and disturbing for Shana and Cody…but, looking back, they know it was the right thing to do. Henry would not have been happier in a nursing home, and he rewards the kids for letting him spend his last days in the way he chose.

All children should have at least one elder like Henry. Failing that, perhaps all children and their parents should read this novel about the best and worst aspects of letting children—and adults—“take care of” themselves.

(Fair disclosure: This review was written by an adult who heard a great deal of “Hadn’t you better be living full-time with your father/mother in case Something Happens to him/her?”—first when Dad went blind (he did tolerate live-in assistance for one year while he learned his way around the dark, empty little apartment of his choice) and more recently now that Mother is just plain old. Neither of my parents wanted live-in assistance. And, after reaching age fifty and looking ahead, I don’t think I will either. We’re not a family that fit that “old people become like infants who need constant supervision, and need to be amused, too, whenever awake” meme, at all. We’re a family who keep on doing whatever we’ve been doing until one day, after doing part or all of the day’s work, we lie down and die. With our boots on, if possible. Anyone who wants to live or work with us needs to deal with it.)

Jane Leslie Conly is alive, though not very active in cyberspace, so this is a Fair Trade Book. Regular readers know what that means: $5 per secondhand book, $5 per package, $1 per online payment, to the appropriate address at the bottom of the screen, from which we send $1 to Conly or a charity of her choice; you could fit four paperbacks or two hardcover books this size into a package for one $5 shipping charge, for a total of $25 (four paperbacks) or $15 (two hardcovers) or $26 or $16 via Paypal, and if all the books were Fair Trade Books we'd send a total of $4 or $2 to the authors and/or their charities.