Drought is the cattleman’s enemy, so renegade drovers are cutting the fences to get to ranchers’ ponds and watering holes. Jesse works with his pa and older brother to repair the barbed-wire fences day after day in the scorching heat, worrying that his family’s food crops will dry up, too.
Big brother Ethan is another worry, spending his nights gambling at the saloon in town – where did the 16 year old get money to gamble with, anyway? Their stern pa won’t put up with such nonsense, throwing Ethan out of the house and breaking Ma’s heart.
And 13 year old Jesse just can’t fire a gun any more – not after his accident, not at an attacking rattlesnake, not for anything. What good is a kid who won’t shoot, out on the 1880s Texas frontier? The fence-cutters are getting bolder, making terrible threats against Jesse’s family and dog and their cattle.
Who’s this Jackson guy that Pa hires to help out? Where is he headed every night after dark? What does Jackson know about the fence-cutters?
Barbed-wire sharp and prairie wind fast, Crosswire is an exciting western tale based on true events of Texas history.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA
Historical fiction at its best, this novel delivers the story of drought-stricken Texas in 1883. Jesse lives on a small farm with his older brother Ethan and his mom and dad. Life is tough, but the boys don't complain--it's how things were back then--work all day and go to bed dog tired every night. Crops are dying and it's tough keeping enough water for the stock and the family. Everyone is praying for a good rain.
Then, when it can't get any worse, wirecutters cut barbed wire fences and use water on private land to water their cattle. Jesse's family wages war against the wirecutters. Every drop of water is precious, and the thieves need to be caught.
Ethan gets in trouble with a gambling debt and steals from the family's savings. He is disowned and kicked out of the family home. A mysterious drifter shows up and gets a job on the farm, but Jesse is suspicious of his intentions--and rightly so.
Enderle has an ear for Texas dialect and her characters come to life through dialog. Jesses says, " That devil sun..."; Ethan says, "Think those scoundrels will come back tonight?"
Quick reading. Reluctant readers will probably have no trouble with this book. Cover has appeal for young readers and Jesse is a likeable character.
2011 Spur Award finalist for best Juvenile (YA) novel
Recommended grades 5-8. Recommended by Pamela Thomspon, Library Media Specialist.
Visit her YA blog for more reviews at http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/