The Yearling isn't just for kids. The themes are deeply human, reaching beyond coming-of-age and examining the nature of love, loneliness and death. Setin the pre-Depression Florida bayou, the narrative follows the Baxter family, particularly the boy Jody, through a series of hardships culminating in the most difficult—the passage from boyhood to manhood.
Jody is the only child of Penny and Ora, backwoods farmers with neighbors no closer than a day's journey. Jody is preoccuppied with finding a pet to ease his loneliness, but few meet his mother's approval. Eventually Penny kills a deer and allows the boy to keep its fawn, which he names Flag. From then on, all Jody's relationships are interpreted through his relationship with the fawn.
Rawlings' prose is dark, violent, alive. Penny tracking the bear Slewfoot, the rambunctious Forrester clan, the peacefulness of the Baxter farm are all visceral and real. Characters are nuanced, with lungs and hearts, not sentimental caricatures (as is often the case with animal stories). The moody climax leaves us as stricken as Jody, and as uplifted.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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