Kings of Colorado

Kings of Colorado

4.5 29
by David E. Hilton
     
 

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"A heartfelt portrait of young men in a bygone age” (Kirkus Reviews) about troubled boys, wild horses, and the high price of a childhood lost.

Thirteen-year-old William Sheppard stabs his abusive father and is sent to the Swope Ranch Boys Reformatory, setting off a string of events that ultimately leads to a horrifying end in the Colorado mountains.

Overview

"A heartfelt portrait of young men in a bygone age” (Kirkus Reviews) about troubled boys, wild horses, and the high price of a childhood lost.

Thirteen-year-old William Sheppard stabs his abusive father and is sent to the Swope Ranch Boys Reformatory, setting off a string of events that ultimately leads to a horrifying end in the Colorado mountains. Along the way, he befriends three boys who become his surrogate family. Their work together taming horses brings peace, as the boys struggle to survive a world of hurt and shocking cruelty wherein the only thing they can rely on is each other as the laws of normal society are stripped away.

With a backbone of heart-wrenching suspense, Kings of Colorado is a beautiful portrayal of brotherhood set against the nobility, danger, and wildness of youth and horses. The bonds between man and beast, along with other themes of community, friendship, and atonement are boldly explored on every page. Kings of Colorado illustrates just how easily innocence can be stripped away, robbing us of something most precious: childhood.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“As heart-wrenching as The Outsiders and as compelling as This Boy’s Life, Kings of Colorado is a coming-of-age story that grabs you from the first sentence and takes you on an intense but rewarding journey. David E. Hilton’s powerful and riveting debut is a must-read.”
—Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

"Set in the magnificent Colorado mountains, this coming-of-age tale provides scenes of gripping action as well as a sympathetic yet unvarnished look into the lives of troubled teens. It should appeal to thoughtful young adults and to those who still remember being one."
Library Journal

“Heartbreaking portrayal of innocence lost in the most profound sense. A former middle school teacher, Hilton clearly understands the struggle of adolescence, and he interrogates that struggle with finesse and admirable curiosity by pushing his characters to their most extreme limits. Will and his compatriots are achingly sympathetic, and their bond with each other and communal will to survive is riveting and thought-provoking.”
Bookpage

“David E. Hilton’s Kings of Colorado, a book that [is] equal parts Annie Proulx and Larry McMurtry set in Colorado in the 1960s.”
Dallas Morning News

“Hard, sad, stirring, poignant, and utterly beautiful. Hilton has written a coming of age story that will be remembered for its characters as well as its harrowing plot.”
—Naseem Rakha, international bestselling author of The Crying Tree

"A heartfelt portrait of young men in a bygone age."
—Kirkus Reviews

"For years I have searched for an heir to Golding's Lord of the Flies, and this is it. But in Kings of Colorado, Hilton allows you to look into these characters and see that redemption is possible. The story of all things wild—wild horses, wild boys, and the wild landscape that looms above it all—this book is as heartbreaking and as hopeful as anything you will read this year. A fine novel."
—Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Obedience

“Hilton’s writing is brutal and poetic, his images haunting. A raw and powerful debut.”
—Noah Charney, international bestselling author of The Art Thief and Stealing the Mystic Lamb

"Hilton's portrayal of adolescent friendship is authentic and touching, and the story moves at a speedy pace as the boys' innocence is shattered in ever deeper and more profound ways. . . .A sort of Stand by Me behind bars."
—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Hilton debuts with a stark novel of violence and fierce friendship in a 1960s Colorado juvenile penitentiary. After 13-year-old Will Sheppard stabs his abusive father while trying to protect his mother, he's sent to Swope Boys Reformatory, a work ranch where the only rule of law is that of a greedy warden, corrupt guards, and vicious fellow inmates, the worst of them a boy named Silas Green. Shepherd befriends a few boys--Coop the literary mind, Benny the kid with the big heart, and Mickey the ornery runt with an ironclad outer shell--and they must all survive the brutishness of head guard Frank Croft and the nihilism of Silas and his cronies while doing back-breaking labor in the horse stables and out in the fields. Hilton's portrayal of adolescent friendship is authentic and touching, and the story moves at a speedy pace as the boys' innocence is shattered in ever deeper and more profound ways. While the writing can flirt with melodrama, the characters are well drawn and their trials are harrowing, a sort of Stand by Me behind bars. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Hilton's first novel begins with old man Will Sheppard remembering traveling in 1963 to a reformatory ranch in remote Colorado after a final bloody encounter with his drunken and abusive father. As he settles in, 13-year-old Will makes friends and enemies and begins to appreciate the outdoors and caring for the ranch's wild horses. During his first year, Will learns a lot about himself. When he and his friends are fiercely tested on a search for some missing horses in an early winter storm, life at the ranch will never be the same for those who survive. VERDICT Set in the magnificent Colorado mountains, this coming-of-age tale provides scenes of gripping action as well as a sympathetic yet unvarnished look into the lives of troubled teens. It should appeal to thoughtful young adults and to those who still remember being one.—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ., Bowling Green
Kirkus Reviews

An abused boy finds comrades-in-arms among his fellow inmates when he's sent to a remote reform school high in the Rocky Mountains.

Texas-based debut novelist Hilton employs a clear-eyed adolescent voice in this story of a young man lost in the wilderness. The story is set in 1963 and stars the tough-as-nails William Sheppard, a 13-year-old from Chicago's South Side. After years of abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father, Will stabs him (though not fatally) with his Davy Crockett Explorers penknife. For his crimes, a judge sends the young man to the Swope Ranch Boys' Reformatory, a desolate and corrupt detention center on Colorado's rugged west slope. On his very first day, Will is attacked by Eddie Tokus, for the simple reason that it's the school's tradition to let the last boy in beat on the next inmate—with the reformatory's wardens and guards betting on the ferocious contest. He wins, earning the nickname "Nosebleed." "Maybe that's what the ranch is," he offers. "It's the same universal rule any kid faces: swim with the group or sink alone." To keep his hide among the den of thieves and hooligans, Will befriends three other boys: Coop Kingston, a regretful firebug who burned his adopted family's home to the ground; Micky Baines, whose rebellious nature is overwhelmed by frontier violence; and Benny Fritch, an innocent who was sent up because he took the rap for his little brother. The winding tale of their passage through this world is marked by inevitable violence, first from Frank Kroft, the chief guard who kills one of the boys. Later, their bond is shattered by the introduction of John Church, a prisoner who deserves his sentence because of his uncontrollable rage. No one is left unmarked, especially Will.

Not altogether unflawed, but a heartfelt portrait of young men in a bygone age.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439183830
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
393,859
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.30(d)

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Meet the Author

David E. Hilton earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard Payne University in 1998. He wrote Kings of Colorado mostly in his apartment’s stairwell just after the birth of his first son. He spends his spare time either writing or training his miniature dachshund to run in the annual Buda Weiner Dog Races. He lives just outside Austin.

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Kings of Colorado 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
bookhimdanno More than 1 year ago
First things first¿I loved this book! I have worked in treatment centers of the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled and boys who are out of control. I have even spit on my meal to be sure that one of those boys in treatment didn¿t steal off my plate(necessary or your food disappears every time you take your eyes off the plate.) This book captured the pain and hurt you see in those kids eyes. Broken homes, drug and/or alcohol abuse, physical/emotional abuse, gang life, the list goes on and on and you can see the need for love and acceptance in each of their faces. This book broke my heart and yet it was life affirming at the same time. A bit of Stand By Me, a bit of Lord of the Flies, a bit of what every teenager goes through and a bit of life as we all know it. The story comes to life in your head so full of color that it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel for this author. It is beautifully written and so full of life. I can¿t wait to see what else David comes out with in the future. Since this is about teen boys in treatment for crimes, it has language and adult situations you would expect. I loved this book and would give it 5 stars, but that to me means that it is a must read for everyone and this one may not be for everyone. I personally loved this story and I hate to cry, I refuse to watch a movie if someone dies because I hate to cry that much. But I cried and cried, I laughed and my heart shattered during my journey through these pages. What an extraordinary book this one is. Relationships are what we have in this life that are truly ours, embrace those you care about today. This is a story that means more than just the words on the pages, it gives you things to think about. It makes you thankful for what you have in this life and it affirms what you hold most important. This is a book I will be keeping to read again and for my kids to read.
Russell Ashby More than 1 year ago
This book cuts to the chase early and doesnt let up to the last page. very good ending also!
mggl More than 1 year ago
A blast out of nowhere
agoodlife More than 1 year ago
Very well written, interesting characters and story. I had to find out what happened but I did not enjoy the book, the story is too dark and tragic for my taste.
Gina321 More than 1 year ago
This Novel was certainly a page turner! The story line and setting brought you into the scene. I love it when an author can bring you to a different place like you are watching a movie. Very well done David Hilton, so glad I chose your novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Astonishing. 
shealy03 More than 1 year ago
Good, solid reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book draws you in from the very beginning. Very hard to put down once started. Some graphic violence, but very good reading. Held my attention the entire time. Very well written.
Eric Purcell More than 1 year ago
I've had few books that had me feeling such dramatic swings of emotion while reading. Couldn't put it down...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has been a while since I have read a book that I really enjoyed. It wasn't sappy to be sappy and the charachters emotions and behaviors seemed real. I figured there would be some disturbing parts and of course there were. There were a couple of laugh out loud moments and there was a part at the end that basically made me cry. I would definitely recommend and certainly would read anoher of Hilton's books.
Carolyn Clingman More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down! Very well done!
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