Sometimes he wished it would come after him, chase him, this thing he did not want to be. But the thing never moved. It merely waited. Waited for him to come to it. In Palmer LaRue’s hometown of Waymer, turning ten is the biggest event of a boy’s life. It marks the day when a boy is ready to take his place as a wringer at the annual Family Fest. It’s an honor and a tradition.
But for Palmer, his tenth birthday is not something to look forward to, but something to dread. Because — although he can’t admit this to anyone — Palmer does not want to be a wringer. But he can’t stop himself from getting older, any more than he can stop tradition.
Then one day, a visitor appears on his windowsill, and Palmer knows that this, more than anything else, is a sign that his time is up. Somehow, he must learn how to stop being afraid and stand up for what he believes in. (Goodreads)
This is definitely one of the most powerful, emotionally-charged books I’ve ever read in my entire life.
I’m not even exaggerating – I’m all dead serious – this book kept me on tenterhooks with its potent writing which packs such an incredible, strong punch and various emotions – fear, anxiety, affinity and so many more. Once I picked up the book, I could hardly put it down. This book gripped me right from the beginning and never let me go until the very last page. In all honesty, I have never read any children’s book like this before.
The most noticeable thing about this book is the emotions it delivers. This book is narrated from an omnipotent point of view yet heavily focuses on the protagonist, Palmer, a 9 year-old boy who doesn’t want to turn 10 years old and become a wringer – a role to put wounded pigeons out of their misery by wringing their neck – a brutal role that I can possibly imagine.
The reluctance and refusal to be a wringer has always been with him and the feelings have only gotten stronger and stronger as he ages. His ten year-old birthday is the day he dreads the most followed by Family Fest where 5,000 pigeons are released for the sky only to have shooters shoot them down.
This event itself disturbed me a lot. Granted, that event generates the money to reinvent the city park, they do that for their community, yet I just couldn’t register the rationale of holding such a brutal event, sacrificing innocent lives.
Palmer’s conflicting emotions are so eloquently depicted in this book. First, his longing to be acknowledged by so-called “cool gangs,” Beans, Mutto and Henry and become one of them. and secondly, his friendship with an unexpected roommate, Nipper, a pigeon that wanders into his room one day.
It was quite delightful and refreshing to see how they forge and develop their friendship but it doesn’t come with only good things. In fact, it sows the seeds of anxiety on Palmer’s side. As Palmer’s attachment to Nipper gets stronger, so does his fears over the safety of Nipper. Don’t kid yourself – Nipper is literally flying over a town where the vast majority of its residents support the pigeon shooting event. My heart went out to Palmer and I had my heart broken so many times as the gang’s suspicion of Palmer’s keeping Nipper deepens.
I was surprised by how visceral this story is and how many elements this book deals with.
Bullying, friendship, respect of life, and courage to stand tall and say “No” to name a few. The author did an astonishing job of encompassing such many elements into one without being preachy. Everything flows so naturally and smoothly, the message this book conveys is so powerful and strong, I was kept glued to this book the entire time. The last chapter was simply captivating packed with so many emotions and tension. I found myself holding a hand over my heart, biting my lip while I was reading it. I could hardly breathe. Man, what a book!
Although this is a children’s book, the writing and descriptions can be a trigger to some readers. I don’t think this book is for the faint of heart but this is undeniably quite a strong, engrossing read!
If you haven’t read this book and if you are interested, brace yourself, but please do pick up this book.
My Rating: ★★★★★