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Wide Open

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  251 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Based on a remarkable true story-
A wilderness of grass
A magnificent secret
A stunning tragedy
A lifelong romance in its earliest days

This is the epic story of Abilene, Kansas, at a time when the cowboy is king, and good and evil are so evenly matched that no one knows which will triumph.

Abilene, 1871. Fifteen-year-old Will Merritt is fiercely protective of the cattle trade
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Penguin / Berkley Trade
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  251 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Larry Bjornson
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Five stars. You've gotta like your own work. ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, giveaway-winner
This is not your ordinary cowboy book. Based on actual events, this story takes place in Abilene, Kansas in the 1870's about a boy's, Will Merritt, coming of age. With Wild Bill Hickok as marshal the is town divided. One side cowboys trying to sell and ship their steer and settlers trying to start a new life farming the flat plains of rich soil. Through events Will has no control over, he learns life's hard lessons.

This book is fun, entertaining, and so well written I couldn't put it down. I wo
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“Wide Open”, Larry Bjornson's first novel, is a great read. I blew through it in two days. Engaging and humorous. Eerily transporting descriptions interspersed with fast-paced action. A coming-of-age story with conflict and resolution, loss and gain, love and tragedy.

Will Merritt's father helped develop Abilene, Kansas as the premier town where Texas cattle are exchanged for eastern money. But in the summer of 1871, Merritt senior harbored a secret that would change the city and maybe destroy it
Yvette Hileman
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down! I loved it! Great descriptions, wonderful character development, and non stop action kept me reading late into the night. <3 ...more
Annette Nibley
Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Wide Open" delivers every element I want in a book: good writing, realistic characters, and a great story. And as a bonus, the book also supplies a good dose of page-turning suspense, historical information about a pivotal time in the settlement of the American West, and most importantly, it left me feeling richer as a person, richer to have known Will Merritt, his family, and all the other folks who live on the pages of Bjornson's novel. "Wide Open" takes an honored place in my bookshelf as on ...more
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
I don't understand why everyone has a boner over this. Can someone fill me in? ...more
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: z-2012
I just finished reading this book, and had to write about it immediately. It is quite unfortunate that I came across this book as I was moving 2,000 miles across the country, because I ended up reading it in many short bits. This book I would normally have read in a day because it draws you into a different world.
So, after a few pages I was already hooked, thanks to the beautiful language Larry Bjornson uses to build his story. I was immediately drawn into this world over 100 years ago, and each
I read the book blurb awhile back and wanted to read this book badly, I even entered the Goodreads giveaway, twice. I didn't win it so I bought it. I am disappointed.

I was promised, I thought, an epic tale of cattle ranchers vs. sod busters. A young man caught between the lives of rough and rowdy cowpunchers and the hard working, dusty farmers. A man who's family made a fortune off one way of life but harbored a secret.
What I got was a tale of a young boy seeing this tale told from a distance a
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a giveaway and I am so happy that I did. I loved this book and I was sad it had to end. It was hard to put down. The book has action, adventure, romance, and a little mystery, making it a very good read. It has chapters that are on the shorter side, which i really like (makes it easier when you have to stop reading often). The book is also very well-written. The author manages to describe sights, smells, etc. in a way that makes you feel like you're there. I haven't felt that ...more
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I won "Wide Open" by Larry Bjornson in a 'First-Reads' giveaway.

I really enjoyed this book. I like reading western romance novels which is what attracted me to this book in the first place. The author really did his research and made you feel like you were there in that time and place. You can really understand about the hardships and struggles of the farmers that settled on the prairie. They were looked down upon and treated harshly. The townspeople showed such intolerance for the farmers.

I fe
tara garcia
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
i will miss having this book in my hands.
Blaine DeSantis
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. Fine first effort by the author. Love how he was able to give us the developmental history of Abilene, KS and fills it with highly believable dialogue and plot line.
Carol Smith
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Disclosure: Won as a First Reads GoodReads giveaway.

The author personally signed my copy and included a thoughtful, signed letter. I worried this might make it a tad difficult to write an honest review if I didn't care for the story, but those worries were quickly swept aside.

This is a superbly enjoyable coming of age tale that plunks you smack down in the middle of wild and crazy 1870's Abilene, Texas. Through the eyes of young Will, you'll be made an honorary deputy of Wild Bill Hickok, and y
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. It was okay - a decent story and an easy read. It wasn't great however.
Many of the characters were barely drawn so it was hard to picture them. The age of the main character also seemed confused. He was supposed to be 15 years old, but seemed much younger - getting excited to get candy for free etc. Maybe I am mistaken, but a 15 year old now wouldn't act this way, and I thought that a 15 year old boy on the frontier would have been treated mu
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This coming of age story takes place in Abilene, Kansas in 1871. Since it is the first Western Novel that i have read I really had no expectations and actually thought the storyline might be a little dull. Well, I was wrong! I was pleasantly surprised and got wrapped up in the story. Based on actual events this beautiful and epic story transported me back to the days of the wild, wild west with its unruly cowboys, settlers, saloons, brothels, and Marshall Wild Bill Hickok. Bjornson writes in suc ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I like reading about history - and I especially like to read about it in novel format (don't like dry texts). Wide Open not only enlightened me about a very important, probably not well known - yet critical, time in our history, but also entertained. The characters are well rounded and have depth. Based on real citizens and events, I felt like Bjornson did his homework, knew his subject well, and is a "pretty darn good writer" (as Will might say). The use of period vernacular added to the "you a ...more
Susana Sousa
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
wide open was a book written in the first person. it tells the story of a young mans life living in cattleman town, Abilene. Will, his sister and mother first lived with their relatives, Wills aunt, uncle and cousin, who treated as lesser than what they were. they later lived with their dad and conflicts between the cattlemen and settlers occurred. Friendships were tested throughout the book when Will develops a liking towards certain group of people. Feuds breakout and loyalty is tested. Life i ...more
Sharon Huether
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wide Larry Bjornson.. Will came to Kansas with his parents after the Civil War. At that time Texas Longhorns were driven through Kansas on their way to market. All of those cowboys made the town a wild place south of the railroad tracks. Wills father had ideas of farming for Kansas especially Winter Wheat. After he persuaded the cattlemen to find another route for the cattle. He planted the Winter Wheat next to the railroad, for all to see. It showed all the skeptics it would grow and ...more
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
OK, so take Huck & Tom, give em different names, and put em out in the Wide Open fields of the ol` West.
Sprinkle in an historic feud between ranchers and farmers... give the bad guys a little bit of good, and the good guys a little bit of bad.
And this is basically the book you get.

It's a pretty good yarn mixing fiction with a bit of history.
Re-telling parts (and adding some new made-up ones as well) of Wild Bill Hickok and Cho's story. Not to mention having the both of them act as Deux Ex Machi
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, goodreads-wins

I won this book in a First-Reads give-away.
I enjoyed this book and I think that fans of the genre will really enjoy it. Larry Bjornson paints some of the scenes in the book so vividly that you feel as if you are riding on the back of a wild Texas bronco right along with Will.

That said, I felt that the character development in the novel left something to be desired. Many of the characters and/or their actions seemed to fall flat at times.

The book is a good read and as I stated before, regular
Dawn Millar
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Not since Twilight series or Grisham's books have I picked up a book that I couldn't put down. Wide open is not a book I would normally pick up. But this delightful historically fact story of the old Wild Bill Hickok cattle driving days of 1871  seen through the eyes of a 15yr old was a page turner.  With all the excitement, adventure and trouble one can get into was absolutely fun and moving. Just plan entertainment and good reading. Just plan on the house going to pot and the delivery man at y
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book! It was SO descriptive that I felt as though I was right there with each and every page I read! I actually experienced the joy, fear, pain, hope and friendships. I am sorry the book had to come to an end!! I love the style of writing Larry Bjornson writes with. It was such an easy read book yet it was exciting and touching. I loved the main characters Will and Jasper, even though Jasper proved to be quite the little trouble maker. Thank you Larry for an AWESOME book!! I am SO LUCKY ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. I could picture it vividly..the descriptions, the emotions, the times were so well depicted. This was totally written from the perspective of the main character, who although I didn't instantly like, I did fall in love with. And the ending? Perfect.
I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in American historical novels.
Thank you Mr. Bjornson.
It was wonderful and has left me smiling! :)
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I finish this book It was very intriguing and very descriptive. I felt like I was in the story. I love history novel's like this one. Thank you for this experience! I hope to read more of your books. ...more
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wide Open is a wonderful classic Western with intrigue, suspense and a interesting historical perspective. This book is a great read. Larry Bjornson makes the story feel real!
Shelley Alongi
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of the best novels I have read in a long time lots of action. This seems a little wild Bill Hickok as emotional as Abilene Kansas nicely done the story was so full of action and almost impassable happenings that I found the apologue kind of disappointing though that was probably the point. The main character settled down and helped settle the heartland. If you like action and western will like this.
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing western. The author captured a interesting segment of Western US history with great accuracy and detail. I felt I began to know and truly understand the true characters in this litany. I reamended this to the library as a book to ensure they put in their young adult section because I think it would help youth fall in love wit history bringing it to life. I too would recommend that teachers of English literature or History have their students read this fine book!
Jennifer Barten
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In all reality this book probably only deserves four stars but because I'm from the Abilene area originally I have a soft spot for it.
Great story about the area that really draws you in and gives you an idea of what the area was like.
Highly recommend it!
Chris Giotta
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
fun to read, not a literary classic, but a quick, folksy romp!
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most perfect novel I have read in a very long time. I was so completely drawn into it that the text felt more real that what was going on around me as I read.
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I graduated from the University of California with degrees in history and political science. My family has owned a farm in North Dakota for three generations.

My grandfather met and married my grandmother in Cody, Wyoming, a town founded by Buffalo Bill Cody. On one occasion, grandfather, who was a member of the town’s band, played a violin solo for Buffalo Bill. And, of course, Buffalo Bill was a

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