Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: Bull Rider By Suzanne Morgan Williams

Title: Bull Rider
Author: Suzanne Morgan Williams
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: May 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Source: Review Copy From Publisher
ISBN-10: 1442412526
ISBN-13: 9781442412521

Synopsis (via Goodreads): All it takes is eight seconds....

Cam O'Mara, grandson and younger brother of bull- riding champions, is not interested in partaking in the family sport. Cam is a skateboarder, and perfecting his tricks — frontside flips, 360s — means everything until his older brother, Ben, comes home from Iraq, paralyzed from a brain injury.

What would make a skateboarder take a different kind of ride? And what would get him on a monstrosity of a bull named Ugly? If Cam can stay on for the requisite eight seconds, will the $15,000 prize bring hope and a future for his big brother?

Powerful. Poignant. Uplifting. Emotional. Beautiful. Told with authenticity and sincerity, Bull Rider makes a very bold statement that will last much longer than the requisite eight seconds in bull riding. Suzanne Morgan Williams is truly a masterful storyteller when it comes to understanding and capturing the dynamics of a family, especially when faced with hardships. Never taking away from the honor, dignity, and bravery of serving one’s country, Bull Rider provides a touching and impeccably realistic outlook on the life of an injured soldier and the extraordinary extent that a family will go to, to try to help him recover. Bull riding plays a very special role in trying to help heal Ben, the injured soldier.

This deeply moving story is something that many people can relate to, not just families of war veterans who have faced difficult circumstances due to a war injury or people who are familiar with bull riding or are fans of it. The author meshes two honorable yet dangerous actions - serving in the Iraq war and bull riding - to create a one of a kind story that is thrilling, adventurous, suspenseful, heartwarming, and full of hope. I thought the comparison of trying to ride a bull, which is very difficult to do, to trying to ride life’s challenges and see them through, was very touching and relevant to the storyline.

This book gives light to the unfortunate reality of how a serious injury can devastate a family, but at the same time, also bring them so much closer together in order to pull through as a family. You get to see the stages, both the ups and the downs, that their family goes through when dealing with Ben’s brain injury and paralysis. It shows how having a supportive family is essential when trying to overcome something like this and how hope, faith, and sometimes luck in the most unlikeliest of places is needed (if you read the book you’ll find out what the unique lucky charm is!).

The plot is paced well and the characters are well put together. Both Ben and Cam are strong characters full of courage and heart. Cam is really an inspiration to his brother Ben through bull riding and tries to motivate and encourage him when he’s down. Cam’s mom is tender yet stern. His grandmother provides much needed comic relief at all the right times. And Cam’s father and grandfather keep the strong backbone of a rancher’s life alive.

I loved Bull Rider! Satisfying and meaningful from beginning to end, Bull Rider is sure to capture your heart, as it did mine. This book is one heck of a ride! I savored every minute of it. This is one of the best inspirational stories I’ve read in a while!

5 STARS!!!

The cover fits the book perfectly. It captures the intense nature of bull riding and how strong and powerful the bull is. It exemplifies honor and courage. The red, orange, and black hues really sharpen the cover and makes it stand out in a bold way.


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