I first read ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’ by Wilson Rawls when I was in middle school. As a young boy, I did not like to read. More than that, I hated reading assigned books by my teachers. To this day, most of the assigned reading, I still dislike. That’s a topic for another time. But one of the standouts, the rare exceptions to those assigned book reads, was this book I’m talking about now. I liked it as a kid, and even though I’ve only recently gone through it for the second time, some 10-15 years later, I love it now.
Back during my first reading of ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’, I had a dog named ‘Biscuit’ and Biscuit was an Australian shepherd and American Eskimo mix. A stub where his tail should’ve been, black fur with white on his underside. I loved this pup, and my puppy likely affected my disposition to Wilson Rawls’s iconic work. Now, only recently, I’ve adopted two puppies and they are Boxer and Border Collie mix. I’ve become more than a dog owner, I’m a puppy daddy. So it’s not surprising to me that the appeal of reading this book again came. With anticipation.
Yet, there also came a dread with said anticipation. Anyone who has read this book will tell ya. It is easy, and fun, to read, but hard to finish. I’m not talking about the writing, pacing, or anything like that. I’m talking about something else, an emotional punch to the gut. I won’t say what, but the book has its highs of joy and elation. But with light come darkness, and a very low pit of grief and hurt.
I was an emotional wreck the day I finished this book. I came home from work, scooped up my baby boys and just held them. They of course enjoyed the extra attention. But I needed comfort, and they sure as well provided it.
The two Coon Hounds in this book, Old Dan and Little Ann are so personable. Something I feel marks the skill of Wilson Rawls’s writing skills, because more than anyone else in this book, I felt more connected to Dan and Ann. I love those two puppies. More than even the human characters. The latter by the way, weren’t badly written or anything. The Coleman family was likable. Billy Coleman’s the main character and I felt was admirable and a good person. I think Billy’s father and grandfather I liked the most. They are guardians, they are mentors, and loving father figures. I just resonated with them the most.
Folks, all in all, ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’, it’s not just an enjoyable read. It’s an experience. When a book can draw me in, and hit me as hard as it did, I know it’s a great book. Only a few have hit me, one of them being ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy.
I highly recommend this classic and will be acquiring a ‘Hard Back Purchase’ for my bookshelf as my final rating. If you are interested in reading this book you can find yours in the link below:
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