Born with a gift that he tries to hide, Amos struggles through life with the knowledge of his water-seeking ability. His Pa was a “dowser” as well, but he thought it was a curse, tying him to his work instead of the mountains where his true calling lay as a trapper. So Amos stuffs his skill way down, trying to forget so he can be like other boys.
Except, how can he? The water both calls to and terrifies him. How can you live a life that you yourself have torn in two?
This book had a crazy amount of potential. Seriously. But living up to the expectation of the description is easier said than done.
The one thing I could tell about this book: the author was in love with it. She was in love with her characters so much, she couldn’t drop any ideas that came into her head. What I mean to say is this: there was too much that happened in that story. The overall plot could have been summed into maybe half as long as the book actually was. In essence, she didn’t want it to end, and she couldn’t let anything go. If I was the editor, I would have ripped out whole chunks and then flung it back at her.
Typically, the reason a book is long is because one of two things needs to happen: a. lots of plot! Or b., serious character development. In this book, I felt like it was neither; it was just filled with lots of….stuff. You could say it was plot, but instead it was just hopping from one random Western-type story to the next. His childhood takes forever to come to an end by the time they hit the Oregon trail. At that point, he should have developed lots and lots of character, but instead he is a sort of vague and generic boy.
I think the idea of a character needs to be explored by the author. It felt like she thought that character meant all this stuff that was on the outside of the character, instead of digging to the heart of the issue. Amos could have struggled with extreme loneliness, depression, abandonment, trust issues and fear of a whole slough of things. Instead the author decided to give him talents and outward random oddities like birds following him and natural artistic ability. Those things do not set Amos up for a triumphant ending by wrapping up his internal struggle full circle. It sets up the ending to be evident and clear from the beginning, thus being less climactic and meaningful.
I would have preferred to see this book structured out a little more thoughtfully, and given a major edit before publishing.
A side note: kudos to Will Patton the narrator! Switching from a Southern accent to British with ease is no small feat. We really enjoyed his voices and creative voices.
UPDATE: This post was mostly finished before I finished the book, but the ending was so badly wrapped up and killed any tension that might have been building by pulling a “Ten Years Later”….. This was going to get a 3/5, but now it is 2/5. It was so bad we were all laughing as the narrator goes into the credits.
Overall Rating: 2/5
Audience: ??? The beginning was awfully rough for a children’s book. Maybe 12 and up?