Gr 6-9-Cam O'Mara, 14, has never ridden a bull in his life and doesn't want to, despite coming from a family of prizewinning riders in Winnemucca, NV. But when his older brother comes back paralyzed from Iraq, he gives up skateboarding for bull riding, much to the dismay of his mother and skater best friend. Partly, Cam is rebelling to get attention, but ultimately he is trying to help with the family's finances, needed to pay for travel to and from Ben's extensive rehabilitation in Palo Alto, CA. When Cam secretly enters a $15,000-prize competition using a fake ID, the family somewhat unrealistically joins together to support him afterward. Williams does an adequate job of capturing the small-town sense of community and pride and explains the rodeo lingo well enough. However, the narrative and dialogue fail to involve readers on more than a rudimentary level. Despite the timeliness of the topic, the audience for this book is limited to those with a real interest in the sport. For an emotionally charged read with a 14-year-old male protagonist, a strong sense of place, and gripping account of how a family copes in the aftermath of tragedy, suggest Gary D. Schmidt's Trouble (Clarion, 2008).-Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Cam O'Mara, 14, is a champion skateboarder, and when he is not helping out on the family desert ranch, he is practicing his moves with his friends in his small Nevada town. But when his older brother, Ben, comes home from the Iraq War severely injured and depressed, everything changes. Ben was a champion bull-rider, and Cam makes a pact with his brother to continue the family tradition: if Cam rides the bull to win, Ben will not give up hope that he can rebuild his life. That connection is a bit of a stretch, but the mix of wild macho action with family anguish and tenderness will grab teens. Driven by his brother's pain, Cam is determined to prove himself in the dangerous bull ring, even if it means faking his identity and lying to his family. Told in a clipped, first-person narrative, this first novel makes the sports details of skateboarding and bull-riding part of the powerful contemporary story of family, community, and work.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2009 Booklist