Time reading: 2.5 hours
Total time spent on 48 Hour Challenge so far: 9.25 hours
Helen Hemphill has written an engaging western novel for middle school and high school age young people with The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones. I’m a fan. It’s interesting that this book carries much the same theme as the Octavian Nothing books that I read for my first entries in the 48 Hour Book Challenge: racial prejudice and injustice, proving oneself as a man, the tragedy of fallen man.
Deadwood Jones is a black cowboy whose story is an amalgam of Nat Love, a true-life African American cowboy of the late 1800’s, Deadwood DIck, a dime novel hero invented by author Edward Wheeler, and dozens of other cowboys, black, white, and Latino, that Mrs. Hemphill read about in her research. The story of Deadwood Jones is a rousing adventure with some humor and quite a dose of tragedy, and it demonstrates what the life of a cowboy was most likely to have been like while enticing the reader to keep reading with a couple of subplots concerning Jones’s search for his long lost father and his quest for justice in an essentially lawless frontier.
Do boys still read Westerns? If so, The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones should be a winner for those who enjoy such a setting. I was reminded, not of other western novels because my reading of cowboy stories has been somewhat limited, but rather of the classic TV series Gunsmoke and Bonanza. I think that’s high enough praise right there.