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Saturday, January 28, 2006


Defiance, written by Valerie Hobbs, is more than the typical "coming of age" story. Toby has finally come to the end of painful cancer treatments. He and his mother are on vacation, in a rented house, in the country. Toby's father joins them whenever he can. His parents, especially his mother, are somewhat protective of him. Toby wants to be able to go places and do things boys of his age who have always been healthy do. He takes off down the road on a bike he found in the garage of the house they are renting.

Toby meets Blossom, a most extraordinary cow. He worries about her and goes to the neighboring farm house to find out more about the old cow. There Toby meets Pearl. Pearl is a spirited old woman who is trying to hold on to her freedom. Toby understands Pearl in a way many people won't. Pearl also understands Toby. Toby doesn't want to go back to the Children's Hospital for more treatments, so he keeps the new lump - the return of his cancer - a secret from his parents. Pearl introduces Toby to poetry. The poems he reads aloud to Pearl, the experiences he has helping Pearl with the farm and milking Blossom, and the special friendship that ties an old woman and a young boy, all come together to give Toby the courage to do what he must do.

Valerie Hobbs has written a gentle story of love, friendship, loss, and courage. Defiance is a tale that promotes understanding and empathy for those who have difficult decisions to make in life. I especially like the "Afterward" which brings Toby's and Pearl's story to a comfortable and positive conclusion.

I thought this was a good book. It was easy to read, went fast, and was serious but not sad even though its subject matter deals with children and cancer. When is a child's life his "own"? When is it not? When does an intelligent senior citizen not have the right to run her life her way? Read this book and find out!
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