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In spite of numerous reform efforts, higher standards, twelve years under Democrats and eighteen under Republicans, th... More

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Author: Dotti Enderle

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Publisher: Calkins Creek, an Imprint of Boyds Mill Press, 2010

Material: hard cover

Summary: The drought was taking its toll on more than the cotton crop. Fence cutters were wreaking havoc for cattle farmers, and mending those barbed wire fences was a daily chore. As much as he hated rebuilding fences, what Jesse really hates is what's happening with his family. Mama is tired all the time; Papa is angry all the time; and his brother Ethan is always sneaking out gambling, hoping to pay back Papa. Times are tough, and when Ethan disappears, Jesse needs to step up. He wants to help his family, but is he ready for the challenge? This is an historical fiction novel set during the 1880s drought in Texas. This is a High Interest / Low Readability option.

Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book, remedial reader

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and Up; read yourself: 10 and Up

Interest Level: 10 and Up

Reading Level: 4.6

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: With Jesse as narrator, readers get a very real sense of the times, as well as his personal struggles. The story is well written and has a level of suspense and mystery that kept me turning pages well after bed time.

Pros: Suspense and strong characters give readers lots to enjoy (and think about) in this historical fiction novel. The story has great depth, and this would make an excellent high interest / low readability title for a struggling reader.

Cons: None, really. Guns are part of the plot and relevant to the context of the story. This is not a Hollywood-style "Western," but those who oppose all references to guns may want to screen this before sharing with young audiences.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a powerful book that is a highly recommended read. It has broad appeal both in an historical context as well as the strong characters

If You Liked This Book, Try: MAN IN THE MOON   SHELTER FROM THE WIND   DENVER DAYS (Children of Colorado series)

Educational Themes: There is a lot to take away from Crosswire. Many of the elements of family dynamics transcend the historical setting and open avenues of conversation. Within the historical context is an opportunity to learn more about life in the 19th Century, as well as the Texas Rangers

Notes: The author donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - historical fiction, family, Texas, 1800s

Date(s) Reviewed: December 2015

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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