Eleven-year old Daniel, or D-man, doesn’t have the best dad. In fact, his dad is pretty mean. But that’s ok, because Daniel has his Uncle Clay. Clay is only twelve years older than Daniel and they do everything together. They fish, play cards, and hang out together all the time. When his dad is angry and being mean, he can go to Clay’s house just down the road.
Clay can’t wait to take Daniel hunting for the first time in their Georgia woods. But when Daniel tragically shoots his uncle after missing his first rabbit, his life is forever changed. The fatal accident rocks his family and their small town, but Daniel is forever changed. How can he possibly go on living when Clay will never laugh again, never hunt again, never make Daniel feel good again?
This is a heartbreaking book that I could not put down. Daniel’s pain is palpable but realistic. Obviously having never been in his situation, I still felt like I was right there with him. How does an 11-year old deal with the overbearing guilt of fatally shooting his uncle? I found myself unable to stop reading because I needed to know that he would be ok, that he would be able to go on with his life. There were times when I wasn’t sure he would do it. The pain he experiences is too much for an adult, let alone a child.
I booktalked this one in my classes today and immediately had five or six students begging for it. I also think this would make a great read aloud. The themes of love and loss, sadness and hope, plus the ideas about gun ownership and children vs. adults would make for some great classroom discussions.
*Review copy courtesy of the publisher. This is a Cybils nominee and all opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the panel as a whole.