Letters from the Mountain

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Overview

A teenage boy sent to live with relatives discovers self-respect, honesty, and family loyalty through an unlikely friendship with a poor boy. “A good read for those who enjoy a contemporary story with an upbeat ending.”—School Library Journal

A teenage boy, sent for the summer to relatives in the mountains in order to remove him from gang influences, discovers life's really important values ...

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Overview

A teenage boy sent to live with relatives discovers self-respect, honesty, and family loyalty through an unlikely friendship with a poor boy. “A good read for those who enjoy a contemporary story with an upbeat ending.”—School Library Journal

A teenage boy, sent for the summer to relatives in the mountains in order to remove him from gang influences, discovers life's really important values through his unlikely friendship with an economically challenged boy.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Catherine Petrini
"To Whom It May Concern: I killed DeWayne Lockhart and this is how it happened," begins the story of Taylor Ryan, a fatherless 13-year-old who's convinced himself that his Northside Lynch Mob isn't really a gang but just "a friendly little group of guys." Then a prank goes horribly wrong. Desperate to remove Taylor from his friends' influence, his mother sends him to spend the summer with relatives on a mountain. Taylor is sullen and resentful. Then he meets illiterate, dirt-poor Jesse Lee. Taylor begins teaching Jesse Lee to read, but the most powerful lessons are the ones Jesse Lee teaches Taylor. It's a common theme in teen fiction-an out-of-control youth goes back to nature and straightens out his life. But Letters rises above predictability. Taylor is painfully real, the mountain residents are deftly drawn, and the final revelation about the death of Taylor's father is unexpected and heartrending. In such books as Song of the Buffalo Boy, The Silent Storm, and Indio, author Sherry Garland established herself as a versatile, intelligent writer of moving, well-researched young-adult novels. Letters from the Mountain continues her winning streak.
Kirkus Reviews
In a clumsy take on a well-used premise (see also the review of Winifred Morris's Liar, below), an at-risk city teenager is sent to his country relatives for attitude correction.

To get Taylor away from bad friends, his mother dispatches him to the mountain home of his great-aunt and great-uncle near tiny Pandora, Texas. Although he carries a switchblade and shoplifts, Taylor makes an unconvincing juvie-in-training; despite failing English, he sends off long, glib letters to his friends—and vicious hate mail to his mother—describing how stupid and boring everything is, meanwhile pitching in with a will at the local grist mill and general store. He spends most of his wages on gifts for the children of an abusive, itinerant "post-cutter" and tree-poacher, teaching them to read in exchange for shooting lessons from the eldest of them, Jesse Lee. In a lachrymose climax, Taylor's mother shows up and confesses that she shot his father in a hunting accident, and Taylor owns up to a prank that left its victim in a coma. Garland (Cabin 102, 1995, etc.) only outlines the ending: Taylor is sentenced to a term of community service in a teen literacy center, spends his spare time at his victim's bedside, and gets an uplifting letter from Jesse Lee. An intriguing supporting cast goes to waste in a weak, uneven story.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152006594
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

SHERRY GARLAND is the author of many award-winning novels and picture books, including Indio, The Last Rainmaker. She lives in central Texas. www.sherrygarland.com

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Letters from the Mountain

    Letters from the mountain is a very interesting story. It is about Taylor part of the North Side Lynch Mob. Taylor lives with just his mom because his dad was killed in an accident. My favorite part was when Taylor and Jesse were shooting cans and when Jesse shot his sister thought he missed the can, but he really shot a rabbit! Taylor's gang snitches candy and other food, steal paint to tag buildings, and steal hubcaps from cars and trucks. One day Dewayne Lockhart starts following Taylor and his gang around wanting to be a part of it after Taylor talks to him. The NSLM (North Side Lynch Mob) put Dewayne through a series of vigorous tests, but the third test goes insanely wrong! Dewayne has to huff a bag of paint remover fumes. He does then goes into a coma. The NSLM run away and leave him there. Taylor calls an ambulance and runs home. He and his mother fight about the NSLM and send him away to live with his great aunt and uncle. On the way to their house he sees a red-haired, freckled face boy on the back of a pickup truck. Taylor starts working at his Uncle Earl's gristmill. Taylor writes letters to his mom saying how much he hates her and to his gang talking about how stupid his aunt and uncle is. Soon he meets Jesse Lee, the freckled face boy. Taylor and Jesse make a deal that if Taylor teaches Jesse to read then Jesse will reach Taylor how to shoot a gun. Somehow Taylor's mom found out that he was shooting gun. She comes to get him, but then she takes him up on the mountain and takes him places that she and her husband visited when they were kids. She starts crying, but I'm not going to tell you the rest of it. Does Taylor find out how his father died? Does he go home with his mom? Does Dewayne come out of the coma? Read the book and find out!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2001

    Letters From the Mountain

    This is a great story about a boy and his friends that learn lifes lessons. This can tell kids about how it is wrong to do terrible things. It also tells about family. And about staying with family and doing hard work.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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