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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Stories of the Wild West Gang, by Joy Crowley

Michael's aunt, uncle, and five cousins, the West family, move into a house just one street away from Michael. The West household couldn't be more different than Michael's household. Whereas Michael is the only child of tidy, neat-freak, proper, prosperous parents, the Wests are raucous, noisy, chaotic, dirty, and poor. For instance, the oldest West boy has a hole cut in the floor of his bedroom so he can toss his dirty clothes directly into the washing machine below. Aunt Rosie wipes her toddler's face clean with the hem of her t-shirt, the t-shirt she's wearing.

As the large mother of a large family who's not overly concerned with the tidiness and cleanliness of her house, I could certainly identify with Aunt Rosie. I appreciated that Michael appreciated the way the Wests did things, even if he was initially surprised or even disgusted.

The book is more a collection of tales about the Wild Wests than a continuous narrative, but even so there is character development, and characters introduced in one story (such as a puppy named Alexander) appear in following stories.

Michael narrates these realistic stories. I liked the pacing and plotting of these humorous tales. I thought the author did a good job of capturing the emotions of an early adolescent. The antics of the West Gang amused me.

Overall I liked and could even, with proper qualifications, recommend Stories of the Wild West Gang. I was disturbed that one four letter word made an appearance, and was referenced repeatedly afterward, and that Michael seems deceptive toward his parents (without it being condemned), and that there's a whiff of romantic feelings from Michael toward one of his female cousins.

Thank you, Gecko Publishing and Netgalley, for giving me a review copy of this book.

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