Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Day No Pigs Would Die

A Day No Pigs Would DieA Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robert Peck's semi-autobiographical novel of growing up in the Shaker Way in rural Vermont in 1940 is full of life lessons--some funny, some painful and violent, and some heart-wrenching.

Twelve-year-old Robert idolizes his father. Haven Peck may not know how to read or write, but he is wise in the ways of the natural world, a good neighbor, and a good man. He is steadfast in his determination to raise his son up to be a good man, too, and to that end teaches him how to take care of the animals, the farm, his mama, and his Aunt Carrie. On a farm, birth and death are everyday occurrences for which there is no escape. But in between the birthing and the dying is a whole lot of laughter, adventure, and love.

In my library, this book is shelved in the adult fiction section, but it really is a young adult novel for older teens. I picked it up because it was on a list of banned & challenged books, and now I'm wondering if it had been challenged in my district at some point in the past and moved from YA to adult fiction as a result?

For readers' advisors: language and setting doorways are primary, character secondary (there is not much in the way of plot--it's more vignettes). The descriptions of farm life are vivid and often brutal, particularly the rape of Robert's pig, the "weaseling" of the puppy, and the animal slaughtering. There are some swear words and some allusions to hanky panky happening down the road. The language is so evocative of a particular time & place it almost begs to be read aloud...which might be a good idea if you wish to read together and discuss as a family.

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