The presenter who recommended Suzanne Morgan Williams’s YA novel Bull Rider said the book was very popular with the metal shop set. The audience of librarians and English teachers all made a quick note, “Get this one for reluctant male readers.” It took me a couple of years, but I finally did get a set this past spring.
It’s a good book. Not great literature, but quality journeyman writing that will probably entertain your “metal shop set” whether your school has a metal shop or not.
The story concerns Cam O’Mara, a high school student living with his family in rural Nevada. Cam wants little more than to pursue competitive skateboarding with his friends, but his ranch owning family has produced a long line of champion bull riders like his older brother, Ben. When Ben comes home from Iraq too wounded to return to riding bulls, the pressure is on Cam. Can he become the bull rider his brother was? Can he help his brother get back on the road to a full recovery? Will Cam be able to win the prize money that just may save the family ranch?
This is not new territory, but Ms. Williams does a good job with it. I was caught up in Cam’s story, I rooted for him at the big rodeo even though I was sure that I knew what the outcome would be. (I was right, by the way.) I suspect most people who read Bull Rider will have the same reaction.
As for students– it has proven to be something of a challenge getting 7th graders in suburban Marin County interested in a story about bull riding. I think I would have much better luck if I were teaching in a more rural part of the country or if my school had a metal shop.