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.
Boys hit a developmental stage about half way through 8th grade when they LOVE to read problem novels. Rottman's Stetson, Alex Flinn's work, anything with boys facing challenges. This was absolutely perfect. Problems, but a ton of suspense, and nothing sappy. It reminded me a lot of Shane, which I still love. I can see this being a great book to hand to boys who have read Green's Unstoppable, which really is more problems than football. I am definitely ordering this one for my school library and checking out Alabama Moon.