Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams

Eight seconds of danger . . . a lifetime of honor.

Yeah, well, maybe. Bull-riding is not so much a sport as it is a deliberate courting of death or serious injury. The question is not whether you’ll get thrown off the bull, but when and how hard. And will you be able to scramble up and scale the fence before the bull turns around and tramples you?

Cam O’Mara is a member of a bull-riding family. His grandfather was a bull riding champion. His older brother, Ben, was a bull rider, too. Cam is more interested in skate-boarding, a sport with its own skills and dangers. However, when Ben returns from Iraq with TBI (traumatic brain injury) and confined to a wheelchair, Cam sees only one way to impress Ben and get him to work at his own recovery. Cam makes a bet with Ben: if Cam can ride Ugly, the fiercest, most dangerous bull on the circuit, then Ben will do whatever it takes to recover from his war injuries.

I really thought this book was both well-written and well-plotted. The details about the sports of skate-boarding and bull-riding felt right to me, although I probably wouldn’t know if they weren’t. Cam and Ben and their parents and Grandpa Roy all are full, well-rounded characters, and I wanted to know what would happen to them, how they would cope with the challenges posed by Ben’s injury. Author Suzanne Morgan Williams doesn’t give easy answers; Ben doesn’t miraculously recover to full health just because Cam tries to ride an angry bull. But there is hope and the support of family and friends. I recommend this book and the four others that I’ve read, published this year, about dealing with the stress of having a family member in or returning from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Do you have any other suggestions for this list?

Other 2009 fiction books for children about the family of service members and the aftermath of war:

Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson.
Heart of a Shepherd by Roseanne Parry.
Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes.
Scat by Carl Hiaassen.

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One or more of these books is also nominated for a Cybil Award, but the views expressed here are strictly my own.

3 thoughts on “Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams

  1. Thanks for the mention! You could add Operation Yes by Sarah Lewis Holmes to your list. It came out this fall and is set in a school on a military base.

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