Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Book Review - can-chasing fun!

A few weeks ago I reviewed Rodeo Rocky, a book from the Half Moon Ranch series that seriously bagged on rodeo. (It wasn't wonderful.)

My choice for this week's feature takes a slightly more clear-eyed - but still fictional - look at rodeo as a sport and lifestyle. No, it's not a new book, so if you're intrigued, you may need to track down a copy at your local library or via a used book source. (Amazon, Alibris are good possibilities. I found an good ex-library hardcover copy at Alibris for lil-ole-me for a whopping $1.99.)

With the caveat that I'm not intimately familiar with rodeoing, so there may be problems with detail that I'm missing completely, this book has been a favorite of mine for a long time, and I'd definitely recommend it.

Tin Can Tucker by Lynn Hall
Abandoned at birth to the mercies of the children's services folks and raised mostly in foster homes, Ann Tucker has one prized possession - a silver trophy belt buckle from the National Finals Rodeo. She's had it since before she can remember, along with a yen for horses, but when Tuck, as she calls herself, realizes just what the buckle is, she decides that rodeo's in her blood and she might as well answer the call.

Figuring her foster parents aren't going to waste too much time looking for a teen who's almost old enough to be out of the system anyway (as long as the checks keep coming), she hits the road, determined to hitchhike her way to her future.

Fiction being what it is, although the odds are against her, Tuck manages to hook up with a goodhearted elderly bullfighter and his grandmotherly wife. Fascinated by the cowboys, speed, sights, smells, and drama of her new surroundings - not to mention actual, real live horses! - Tuck is a bit dismayed to find that if she wants to be successful in rodeo, the only event open to women at a professional level that might make her a living is barrel racing (as opposed to buckle bunny - a suggestion also made).

A quick study, she's also aware that a career in barrel racing isn't going to be easy, or cheap - after all, she doesn't even have a horse - yet.
But Tuck takes challenge & adversity in stride. It isn't long before she acquires a roughstring washout bound for the kill pen for failing to buck, and friends willing to teach her about horses and the rodeo way of life. Along the way to her own rodeo finals, Tuck also learns a few lessons on the value of friendship, what makes a family, and the places a good horse can take her.
Written in the early 1980s, there are a few dated details, but surprisingly little at the heart of the story doesn't ring just as true today as it did twenty-five (Holy cow - it is that long ago!) years back. Re-reading it recently, I had a good chuckle at BC's complaint about the expense of hauling a big truck & trailer across the countryside. He should be paying today's prices!

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