The Way Back 'Round
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Genres: Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Young Adult. Format: Paperback. Views: This Week 6, Total 1275.
The Way Back 'Round is a story of family and friendship, of a boy who makes an innocent but terrible choice that haunts him for the rest of his life.
Set in rural Minnesota in the 1930's, The Way Back 'Round follows young Jake Frye, who enjoys nothing more than sitting between his father's legs while driving a wagon team of horses. However, when a large buck just across their path and pitches Jakes from the seat, his mother, tender from a string of miscarriages, reins him in. Jake's frustration builds and he makes a devastating mistake.
Rejected by his mother and wracked with guilt, Jake hops a freight train joining the thousands of men and boys riding the rails during the depression. He meets Franz, another runaway, and they become brothers. Picking fruit in California, and cotton in Texas, they beg at back doors, eat in soup kitchens, sleep in "jungle" camps - all under the threat of brutal railroad "Bulls" who patrol the tracks. While Franz dreams about marrying a red-headed girl, Jake yearns for his family. When a kind farmer tells them about Roosevelt's Conservation Corps camps set up to help young men like themselves, they head to California and join up.
Working in the camp north of LA, the boys have structure, shelter and steady food. They spend their free time at "Arnies", a beach bar in Santa Monica that caters to the camp boys and servicemen. Over French Dips and cold beer they meet soft-hearted Bonnie and brassy Linae, for whom Franz falls hard. As WWII escalates, the boys enlist and Jake must again confront his past. The Way Back 'Round is told with great sensitivity and reinforces the truth that our lives are shaped by the choices we make.