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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Worth by A. LaFaye

This book is nominated for RebeccaCaudill 2008 award. The story takes place during the late 19th century and depicts lives of two boys, a Nebraska farm boy and a New York orphan. Nathan, the farm boy, had an accident that left him unable to help his dad with the farm work. Subsequently, his father brings an orphan train traveler, John Worth, to help him.

Both boys are challenged to adjust to their new life. Nathan has lost his pride in working with his Pa, father's attention, and the chance of becoming a farmer. John grieves over his family that he lost in a fire, and is frustrated with the lack of opportunity to continue his education. Divided they quietly suffer alone. However, the battle between farmers and ranchers changes everything as Nathan and John try to save their community.

The author masterfully analyzes various feelings: father's guilt (for family's circumstances, his young daughter's death, and Nathan's accident); Nathan's jealousy toward John and his insecurity in the classroom; John's anger for loosing his family and being unable to continue his education.

Do the boys reconcile? How do they do it? Will John stay on the farm? To find answers to these questions and to enjoy a great book, read Worth. Who knows, it might be the winner.

This is a really touching story. The emotions touched on - love, guilt, hopelessness, failure, fear, are all very real. Based in historical truth - there were many orphans and unwanted children who traveled west to find "new" families - this book opens the readers heart and mind to the struggles on both sides of the relationships that came about during this time. Sometimes (maybe often) the orphans, going to an unknown family out west, did not end up in a "happily-ever-after" existence. Often it was, at least for the older children, that their labor and strength was needed by the family taking them in.

I like the ending of WORTH, how the boys finally accept each other and they become family.

Kudos to the author for honestly portraying the stresses between farmers and cattlemen, neighbors and newcomers, the children and adults during this historic time of expansion out west.
I read this book for a project and I thought it was really booring. I just thought it didn't go anywhere. A boy hurts his leg. They get an orphan. The boy goes to school. John Worth sees someone get murdered. I mean... who wants to read about that? E-mail me at if you have anything to say about it.
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