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Wrecker

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Overview

After foster-parenting four young siblings a decade ago, Summer Wood tried to imagine a place where kids who are left alone or taken from their families would find the love and the family they deserve. For her, fiction was the tool to realize that world, and Wrecker, the central character in her second novel, is the abandoned child for whom life turns around in most unexpected ways. It's June of 1965 when Wrecker enters the world. The war is raging in Vietnam, San Francisco is tripping toward flower power, and ...

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Raising Wrecker: A Novel

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Overview

After foster-parenting four young siblings a decade ago, Summer Wood tried to imagine a place where kids who are left alone or taken from their families would find the love and the family they deserve. For her, fiction was the tool to realize that world, and Wrecker, the central character in her second novel, is the abandoned child for whom life turns around in most unexpected ways. It's June of 1965 when Wrecker enters the world. The war is raging in Vietnam, San Francisco is tripping toward flower power, and Lisa Fay, Wrecker's birth mother, is knocked nearly sideways by life as a single parent in a city she can barely manage to navigate on her own. Three years later, she's in prison, and Wrecker is left to bounce around in the system before he's shipped off to live with distant relatives in the wilds of Humboldt County, California. When he arrives he's scared and angry, exploding at the least thing, and quick to flee. Wrecker is the story of this boy and the motley group of isolated eccentrics who come together to raise him and become a family along the way.

For readers taken with the special boy at the center of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Wrecker will be a welcome companion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
New Mexico author Wood follows Arroyo with this affecting novel about the rearing of a lovable boy named Wrecker (for his destructive tendencies), who carries the scars of being abandoned at age 3 when his penniless, clueless mother, Lisa Fay, went to prison for drugs. It's early 1969 when Wrecker's uncle, Len, whose wife is brain damaged from an infection, becomes aware of the heft of his guardianship responsibilities as he cares for Wrecker at the Bow Farm hippie commune on the Lost Coast section of Northern California. To "help him go forward," the eccentric residents--young, no-nonsense Southern belle Melody; plaid-clad mother-hen Ruthie; and independent, "short and furry" Johnny Appleseed--of this unconventional cloister take Wrecker into their collective arms. Wrecker is confused and troublesome, and over the years often runs away, but eventually comes to appreciate his alternative family. Complications emerge with a hasty adoption, Len's wife's pneumonia, Wrecker's burgeoning adolescence, and his estranged mother's eagerness to reclaim her teenage son when she's released from prison after almost 15 years, just as Wrecker might be moving past his need to reunite with her. Wood (who was inspired by her own fostering experiences) succeeds with surefooted prose; a lush, earthy California backdrop; and a sensitive story of nurturing and family. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Wrecker is a three-year-old boy living in 1968 San Francisco with his mother, Lisa Fay, a single woman struggling to provide a living for her son. When a string of bad decisions results in his mother's arrest and imprisonment, Wrecker goes to live with family he's never met, far away in Humboldt County. His uncle Len is barely able to keep track of him because he's struggling to take care of Meg, his newly disabled wife. Luckily for Wrecker, Len's friends live close by; Melody, Willow, Ruth, and Johnny Appleseed take Wrecker in and raise him. While Lisa Fay is incarcerated, Melody becomes Wrecker's mother, and his memories of his birth mother, both traumatic and loving, fade. But as Wrecker grows to adulthood, he and Melody both must face the truth of his heritage before it shows up on their doorstep. VERDICT A sweet adoptive-home story with extra heart and lovingly flawed characters, this second novel by Wood (Arroyo) will find its home with fans of Jo-Ann Mapson and Pam Houston.—Julie Kane, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA
Kirkus Reviews

A novel that follows the growth of a young boy—appropriately named Wrecker because caution is not a major aspect of his personality—to a man of 20, ready to take off on his own.

The circumstances that bring Wrecker to Bow Farm are unusual. He's born in 1965 to a young woman who three years later is convicted of a crime involving drugs and guns. She's put in prison for the foreseeable future, and her son is claimed by her brother-in-law Len, who doesn't really want the burden and responsibility of a child, especially since Len's wife, Meg, has recently suffered brain damage as the result of an infection. Len lives on a remote farm in the Mattole Valley, in Humboldt County, northern California. Somewhat bewildered by what to do about the boy, he takes him next door to Bow Farm, inhabited by an eccentric band of individualists who try to live off the unforgiving land. Earth Mother Melody is happy to have the boy and begins to raise Wrecker as her own child. Also populating the farm are Willow, who's attracted to Len and eventually begins an affair with him; Johnny Appleseed, who becomes something of an environmental terrorist; and Ruth, an older woman who becomes a grandmother-figure to Wrecker. Meanwhile, Wrecker's mother, Lisa Fay, is working out her sentence in the penitentiary and keeping faith that eventually she'll be reunited with her son. Melody's fear is that her role of adoptive parent is not sanctioned with any piece of paper, so she has no legal claim on the child. We watch the stages of Wrecker's growth from a taciturn and skittish child to a more voluble and less isolated adult. The adults form an extended family for Wrecker and in the process lurch their way through the awkward stages of parenthood.

Wood (Arroyo, 2001) moves her characters gracefully through trying times, both cultural and personal.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611731088
  • Publisher: Center Point Large Print
  • Publication date: 7/28/2011
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 399
  • Product dimensions: 5.89 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Summer Wood is the author of Arroyo. In 2007 she was awarded the Literary Gift of Freedom from A Room of Her Own Foundation for her work on Wrecker. She teaches writing for the University of New Mexico's Taos Summer Writer's Conference and in 2009 directed the first annual NEA/Taos Big Read. She is currently the director of the Young Writers' Mentorship Program and has lived in Taos for the past 20 years.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great Read

    Engaging characters and a good story pull you in and then you don't want to come back out. The story shows us Wrecker's life and the people that shape it at different points as he is growing up. We also get to see bits and pieces of him mother's life and how her life choices shaped him. A great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 23, 2011

    A Good Read

    The main character, a little boy, did not even receive his name till around one year of age. He received the name, Wrecker, because he had a penchant for getting into things he shouldn't. After his father takes off and his mother is arrested, Wrecker is placed into the foster care system. He ends up with his uncle, Len, for a short while. Len has a wife he takes care of constantly, he decides he cannot take care of Wrecker. The residents of Bow Farm, up the road from Len, decide to take in Wrecker until he is returned to the foster care system. Wrecker stays with these people till he is 20, his character and personality develop and are shaped lovingly by these residents. This novel is impressive in that the author manages to create such odd circumstances and make them appear perfectly believable. Wrecker could have been an angry child who turned into an even angrier man, however, because of the residents of Bow Farm, Wrecker now has infinite potential as a person. A very heart-warming story, this is recommended for young adults/adults.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    Coming-of-Age Tale

    Wrecker is the story of a young boy who is raised by friends who live communally on a farm in California. He arrives at Bow Farm after his mother is sent to jail and the state sends Wrecker to the care of his mentally-impaired aunt and her husband. Three-year old Wrecker is more than his uncle Len can handle while caring for his disabled wife, so Wrecker is cast to the women living on the farm next door.

    The story had great potential, but, the characters did not feel fully developed. Moreover, all of the adults in the story were highly tainted by their own selfishness and self-centeredness. Providing for Wrecker's needs never seemed about the benefit of the child; instead, each adult seemed to respond to him out of need to fill a void in himself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    great read

    wrecker, the main character, at 3 yrs old is sent to live with his uncle after his mother has been sent to jail. the story follows wrecker thru 15 yrs. during that time, his uncle adopts him but the ladies of BowFarm take wrecker in and he develops relationships with each person at the farm, and each person helps wrecker develop in diffrent ways to become a smart, mature, self sufficient young man. takes a village to raise a child, is so true in this story. each character lends something interesting to the story. never a slow moment. excellent book for a book club or discussion group.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    quick read

    This was a good quick read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2014

    Just so-so

    Not much to like. Dragged on a lot. Never felt anything for any of the characters.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2014

    Read it - you won't be sorry.

    Enjoyed this book. The only change i would make - what happened to arvyn.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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