Steering Toward Normal

Rebecca Petruck. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0732-2
Despite his bucolic surroundings, eighth-grade 4-H member Diggy Lawson is anything but tranquil. First, there’s the pressure to please his crush July Johnston, a high school senior and champion cattlewoman, by winning a grand prize at the Minnesota State Fair. Then Diggy’s classmate Wayne shows up at the doorstep and turns out to be Diggy’s half-brother. After Wayne moves in with Diggy and his single father, the boys compete to see who can raise the better steer while vying for their father’s affection. Diggy is jealous of July’s attention to Wayne and wonders if his half-brother will stand in his way of winning a ribbon at the fair. And why is Wayne so anxious to locate Diggy’s mother, who “left town on a tractor” when Diggy was a baby? First-time author Petruck’s account of country life is never dull as she depicts the strong work ethic of cattlemen and women, along with the universal conflicts between siblings. If Diggy’s father takes the discovery of a second son a little too well, he remains a stable force effectively contrasting his temperamental sons. Ages 9–13. Agent: Kate Schafer Testerman, kt literary. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/24/2014
Release date: 06/17/2014
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