Twelve-year-old Foster knows in his gut that Dax Ganey, the man dating his widowed mother, is a bad seed. Then a mysterious stranger arrives at their Alabama farm, a former Army Ranger in Iraq rambling across the country, and Foster believes he has found an ally against Dax. The stranger proves a fascinating mentor, full of wisdom and secrets. And Dax soon has reason to resent not just him and Foster but also Foster’s mother. A spurned Dax will be a dangerous enemy, but Foster is increasingly aware that the stranger is just as dangerous, if not more so.
From the author of one of the most highly acclaimed children's survival adventures of the last decade comes this tautly wound new novel reminiscent of classic westerns, about a boy caught in the middle of a clash that may turn out to be his own battle to fight.
Problems and suspense
Foster is still struggling with the death of his father, and is irritated that his mother is dating the volatile and unpleasant Dax. Dax is cruel to his dog Joe, rude to Foster, and controlling with his mother. The farm needs to be sold because they can no longer keep up with the work, and Dax is no help at all. One day, Foster meets Gary, who is walking across the US to get to Texas. He stays the night in the barn and starts to help out around the farm in exchange for being able to sleep in the barn. He won't tell Foster why he is walking to Texas, only that he was in the special forces in Iraq, but he is a huge help with the work around the farm, and also with helping Foster work through his grief about his father. When Foster's mother breaks up with Dax and Dax starts to threaten the family, Gary is an even bigger help. Foster knows that he and his mother will eventually have to move to the city to be with his grandfather, and that Gary will leave, but for a while, he needs to be at Fourmile Farm to work through things.
Great for middle grade boys
Foster's father died in an accident in the woods behind the farm, and now Foster's mother thinks it is time to sell the place and move the two of them back to Montgomery. Foster misses his dad, but he agrees it might be time for a change.
Another reason Foster wouldn't mind leaving the farm is his mother's new friend, Dax. Dax says he works for the power company, and he has started hanging around pretty regular. Foster doesn't trust the guy and neither does Foster's dog Joe. Fortunately, she keeps Foster busy with chores as she tries to fix up the property to sell.
One afternoon as Foster is painting the fence, he notices a stranger and a dog walking along the road. The stranger introduces himself as Gary and asks if he could use their hose to refill his water container. When it begins to rain, Foster begs his mother to let the man stay in their barn until the weather clears.
Foster is fascinated by Gary and his curious questions reveal that the man was in the military and is traveling to Texas. With Foster's help, Gary fixes the leaky barn roof and proves that he might be helpful around the place. As the days go by, Foster becomes attached to the wanderer.
When Dax stops by for a visit, he challenges Gary's right to be there. His temper flairs and a threatening side of Dax shows itself, frightening both Foster and his mother. Gary sends the bully on his way and promises to stand up to him should he return.
FOURMILE by Watt Key is sure to be a hit with reluctant readers. Readers will quickly connect with Foster and relate to his mixed feelings about leaving the place that holds final memories of his father. The mysterious Gary may have a dangerous secret, but he will win over fans as he protects Foster and his mom from the mean and nasty Dax. Key's previous fans will want to get their hands on this one, and he is sure to gain new fans that can be directed to ALABAMA MOON followed by DIRT ROAD HOME.