Stevecrandell's Reviews > Down Sand Mountain

Down Sand Mountain by Steve Watkins
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Apr 24, 10

bookshelves: grades-7-9, middle-school-boys
Read in April, 2010

The sights this book inspires are so pure and strong that, in one sense, nothing else matters. Dewey Turner is socially awkward, often scared, and naïve – even for a 7th grader. But most of all he’s sincere. The setting is a struggling town in 1960s Florida, a wasteland built on the phosphate industry. Watkins closely sketches the land, its people, and the conflicts of the time. His eye for detail saves the story from miring itself in sermons against bullying, racism, or the traumas of the Vietnam War. Dewey’s wide-eyed view and selective hearing make for a lot of funny moments – that’s another welcome relief. Watkins doesn’t sugarcoat his words, however, or gloss any of the action. There are some uncomfortable sexual allusions, and one graphic scene. Dewey may be only 12, but this is a book for teenagers, and their parents, or maybe anyone looking for a reminder of what it means to be innocent.
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