Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wheezer and the Painted Frog - By Kitty Sutton

I approached this book with happy trepidation, because it was carrying me back to a genre I had loved as a child and as a teenager, the one I had grown up with and then I had been forced to leave behind because there weren’t any good western books to read any more.
And it did not fail me.
I realize, however, that defining it just a “western” is highly reductive, for “Wheezer” is much more than that, and can be read on different levels, by people with different interest.
It is, first and foremost, a historical book,  looking into one of the most sorrowful pages of the Native Americans’ history, the “Trail where They Cried”, the forced migration of the Cherokee tribe from their native land to the arid Territory of Oklahoma.  Kitty Sutton has manage to paint the odissey, the agony of a people with just a few words here and there, never getting boring (as historical books could be) and always touching the heart of the reader.
Then there is Wheezer himself… any reader who loves animals in general and dogs in particular cannot help but being captivated by this small, extremely clever dog, who’s a sort of “deus ex machina” throughout the novel. He’s so cute, so brave, so clever, you’ll never have enough of him, you’ll wish to read more about him.
And the other characters, from Jackson Halley to the little, brave Cherokee girl Sasa, to all the other minor characters, are unforgettable too. Kitty has a way of making them come to life with her words so that the reader can actually “see” them and share their emotions, their despair, their pride, their happiness.
And then there is the “western atmosphere” proper, the landscape, the wide spaces, the forest and the arid plains, all brought to life in such way the reader cannot help but feel transported in another land and in another time.
As I said at the beginning, this book brought me back to the love of my childhood and youth,  and I must say that reading Wheezer’s story, the Cherokee people story, Sasa’s story, captivated me as much as the best novels by Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour  managed to do so many years ago.
I definitely recommend reading this book. You’ll feel the richer for

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