Title: Coyote Winds
Author: Helen Sedwick
May Contain Spoilers
I am fascinated with history, so when I was contacted to review Coyote Winds, I jumped at the chance. The story is told through alternating POVs (including a coyote’s), and Myles is experiencing the Dust Bowl first hand. His grandson, Andy, is desperately trying to understand his grandfather’s stories of life on the prairie. Andy feels like he is nothing but a disappointment to his overachieving attorney parents, and he is struggling in school. He can’t seem to connect with his peers or his classes. After his grandfather’s death leaves a hole the size of the prairie in his heart, Andy attempts to reconcile his grandfather’s tales with what life on the prairie in the 1930s was really like. Conflicting accounts his great aunt told his mother puzzle him, and for a boy who didn’t like reading, Andy was suddenly all about researching what his grandfather and his family endured on their homestead. I loved how Andy kept insisting that it’s his story, too, and his mother’s story, after she shuts down and doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.
It took me a while to warm up to Andy and his segments of the story. But before I knew it, I was invested in the lives of all of the characters in Coyote Winds. By the end of the book, I shocked by how much I had come to like them. The more I think about it, the more moved I am by this story. It is raw and uncompromising at times, and Myles’ accounts of his childhood experiences are unflinchingly truthful. From brutal rabbit hunts to disputes with the neighbor over proper farming techniques, Myles’ narrative POV is both unemotional and free of embellishment. He’s just telling it like it is. As he begins to realize how primitive life on the farm is, with no electricity or running water, he begins to question his father’s dedication to farming. Is he just stubborn? Can’t he see how difficult life in the middle of no where is, and how unhappy his mother and sister are? While Myles loves the land, he longs for something more.
Ro, the coyote pup Myles rescues after a dust storm, also shares the story through his eyes. His point of view didn’t work as well for me, because I was so stressed that Bad Things would happen to him. His chapters left me sad and depressed, because he kept longing for the things he would never have; a life among his own kind, and his brothers and sisters to play with. His human pack didn’t understand him, and when Myles, in an effort to protect both his friend and Ro, chases him off, my heart broke for the little guy.
By the end of the book I was sobbing. I don’t know why, other than each character had come to life for me, and had come to mean something to me. Even the people I thought I couldn’t stand had shining moments of insight that made me understand their stance on farming and raising their families. This is a book of broken dreams, but it’s also a story of hope and the courage to attempt to make changes in your life. While the farmland was harsh to Myles and his family, it was healing to Andy and his parents, and brought them closer together.
Review copy provided by the author