written by Helen Sedwick
published by Ten Gallon Press
Why did I pick this book: I was asked by Ms. Sedwick’s publicist to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)
Did I enjoy this book: I really did. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but this book surprised me.
When a book switches between narrators, it can sometimes be confusing. When it also switches between time periods, it can be even more confusing. When the book throws in an animal’s point of view, your head can spin. While Coyote Winds has two human narrators about a century apart plus a coyote’s point of view, I was not at all confused. In fact, I enjoyed the book even more so because of this.
My favorite narrator was Ro, the coyote. To see the west through his eyes was truly something. I really liked Ro. He made me care about Myles and his family. Ro made me see the farmlands of Colorado, the family, the other animals. Ro was partially blinded as a pup during a dust storm. When Myles’s father, Lionel, wanted to kill the pup, Myles stopped him and decided he would domesticate the coyote pup. Needless to say, Myles succeeded and a friendship like no other was formed. Ro cared about Myles and his family. He missed his pack but he found a fierce loyalty to his new pack. One of my absolute favorite scenes was between Ro and the hog, Spark Plug. I could see it play out in my mind, and it made me chuckle out loud.
The other narrators in Coyote Winds are Myles and Andy. Myles is the young boy growing up in Colorado during the Dust Bowl. Andy is Myles’s grandson and the keeper of his stories. Myles asked Andy to write down all of his stories so that they would live on after he was gone. Andy took this task to heart, though reluctantly at first. But the stories started to take hold of him. I could tell that Andy really started to embrace Myles’s stories and life. He wanted to experience more of it.
Myles didn’t seem quite as prominent despite being a narrator. His story showed us aspects of his entire family. Through Myles, we learn of Lionel’s determined spirit to work the land and provide for his family. We learn about Shirley’s devotion to her husband yet dislike of the dust. We learn about Clare’s desire to be more. Through Myles we also learn about their neighbors, Herbert and Tommy. Myles is the voice of everyone in the 30s in Vona, Colorado. I really enjoyed Myles’s jokes sprinkled throughout the book. They were corny, but they made me laugh.
This was a great read about a time period that I am not that familiar with. Yes, I’ve learned about the Dust Bowl. But I don’t remember every truly learning about how rough it was and how the people worked hard to survive it.
Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book, especially if you like historical books about the 1920s and 1930s. I will also have my sons read this when they get into their teens.
Will I read it again: I will not.
About the book – from Goodreads: When thirteen-year old Myles brings home a coyote pup half-blinded by a dust storm, his father warns him a coyote can’t be trusted. His neighbor loads his rifle and takes aim. Yet Myles is determined to tame the pup just as his father is taming the land. The time is 1930. Tractors and fertilizers are transforming the prairie into the world’s breadbasket. The American dream is within every man’s reach. But when drought turns these dreams into paint-stripping, crop-killing dust, Myles wonders if they have made a mistake trying to tame what should be wild.
Seventy years later, when Andy remembers his Grandpa Myles’s tales about growing up on the prairie, he wonders what stories he will tell when he has grandchildren. Algebra, soccer practice, computer games, the mall? Determined to keep his grandfather’s memories alive and have some adventures of his own, Andy heads out to discover what’s left of the wild prairie.
Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Helen Sedwick, author of Coyote Winds, to the blog today. She has answered the following questions for all of you.
Where did you get your inspiration for Coyote Winds? I was inspired to write Coyote Winds by my father’s stories of growing up during the Dust Bowl. While there was plenty of blowing dust in his stories, he also talked about freedom and adventure. With the schools closed, he spent his days hunting rattlesnakes and rabbits. He camped out on the prairie grass and counted a thousand shooting stars. I wanted to contrast my father’s unfenced boyhood with the over-supervised life of a modern, suburban boy who “couldn’t ride a bike without a helmet, play soccer without pads, or ride in a car with a driver under thirty.” As I researched the Dust Bowl, I discovered it captured a classic story about American optimism. I wanted to tell that story.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Coyote Winds is a very American story about our can-do spirit blinding us to the unintended consequences.
I see that you practiced business law for a number of years. Which do you enjoy more – practicing law or writing? That’s easy…writing. Although when the blank page seems to be laughing at me, it’s a toss-up.
You have also had a play produced. How do you switch gears from writing fiction to a play? I assume that those are two very different approaches when you sit down to start. The core challenge is the same—creating believable characters navigating external and internal challenges. In writing a novel, you spend more time in your characters’ internal worlds. In writing a play, that internal world is hinting at in action and dialogue.
Any other books or plays in the works? Goals for future projects? Yes. I am working on a novel about a woman whose husband is arrested for a white collar crime. She comes to realize how they had been corrupted in a thousand tiny steps. I am also working on a legal, step-by-step handbook for self-publishers. I want to help writers with everything from obtaining tax ID numbers to protecting their copyrights.
What is your favorite genre to read? Historical fiction.
Who is your favorite author? That’s a tough question. At the moment, Louise Erdrich
In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. A real eye opener about the choices one makes in responding to the struggles of life.
Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet…at least not found easily.
- I love Zumba.
- I have webbed toes. (So do my daughters.)
- People often tell me I look like Sigourney Weaver (although I wish I were as tall as she is.)
About the author: A finalist in the 2011 Mainstream Fiction Writers Digest Competition and the Lorian Hemmingway Short Story Contest, HelenSedwick recently won second place in the Redwood Writers Flash Fiction Contest for a piece adapted from Coyote Winds. She is a lawyer and lives in the Sonoma wine country with Howard Klepper, a builder of handcrafted guitars, and an exuberant hound dog named Farlow.
Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!