I've been on a kick lately of reading books I never got the chance to read. When I told Aubrey I'd never read Where the Red Fern Grows she told me I had to read it, that it was the first book she read and reread zealously as a child. I was intrigued.
But I tread lightly. Aubrey likes books that are sad, her recommendations are books that make one want to cry their weeks away, to wallow in the sadness, to feel the deepest, saddest emotions the earth has afforded us.
And still, I had to read it. I'm glad I did.
Billy saves up money for two years to buy some hunting dogs so he can hunt coons in the foggy river bottoms of Ozark Country, which is quite a feat for any young boy. He finally gets his dogs and trains them with patience and care matching that of the most committed trainers, and breeds two of the best hunting dogs. Billy and his dogs go out night after night, and they form one of the strongest bonds ever illustrated in a book.
This book started slow, and though I was into the ideas of it, I had a hard time getting into it. I stayed patient, and it payed off. About halfway through I was hooked, and at the end I was so devastated yet hopeful that I could see why Aubrey loved this book, why she had read it again and again. This story not only evoked feelings within me I had long since forgotten, it transported me to a time and place I love to go. The south, the Ozarks, the woods, hunting with two loyal dogs in the woods, skirting disaster at every turn with the imagination and invincibility we all feel we have at such a young age.
Where the Red Fern Grows is a timeless classic, worth every page, worth the slow beginning, and definitely worth the miraculous end. I wish I had read this book when I was younger, but then again, I'm kindof glad I didn't. I'm kindof glad Aubrey recommended this book to me, glad she had me pinned that I would love this book. And I'm glad I listened.