WRECKER by Summer Wood

Book Quote:

“He was safe, he was loved, he was well cared for. Melody saw to it that he had everything a kid could need and a hefty portion of the things he simply wanted. There was even a way you could look at his life and think: the perfect childhood. Rousseauian – if Rousseau’s noble savage had a pirate manque for an aunt, an abandoned Willy’s jeep for a rocket ship, and the run of the forest.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody  (FEB 17, 2011)

Wrecker, a novel by Summer Wood takes place primarily in the Mattole Valley in northern California from 1965 through the 1980’s. It is the story of a commune called Bow Farm and of the people who live there, held together by their love of a boy named Wrecker who comes to them unexpectedly and grows to be the glue that keeps them all together.

One day in 1962, Lisa Fay, a homeless and strung out woman who got herself into some very bad stuff, gives birth to a son in a public park in San Francisco. She’d planned on a home birth but she had no home. For the first year of his life, Lisa Fay didn’t even name her son, but then she decided on “Wrecker” because he seemed to get into everything and make a wreck. Wrecker’s father walked out and Lisa Fay got herself involved in some drug and gun deals that went wrong. This cost her fifteen years in prison if she made parole.

After Wrecker turns three and has been in a series of foster homes, his uncle Len is located and he agrees to adopt him. Len’s wife who was completely debilitated by a root canal that went to her brain is Lisa Fay’s sister. Len brings Wrecker to Bow Farm and the people there take to him immediately.

There is Ruth, the homebody and cook who was saved from taking her own life several years ago. Johnny Appleseed plants trees and opposes the razing of the wilderness. He is pretty much a loner but fits in well at Bow Farm. Melody is one of the original founders of the farm and she falls for Wrecker in a big way, becoming his mother. She works in the local mercantile when she isn’t caring for Wrecker. Willow is the other owner of the farm and she has run away from something that is eating her insides out. She is a weaver and works on exquisite and exotic carpets. Len is a lumber man who also carves wood. To make money, he hauls and chops wood for others so they can survive the winter. And then there is Meg, Len’s wife, more like a child than an adult after her brain infection, cared for lovingly by all who live on Bow Farm.

We watch Wrecker grow from a three-year-old to a twenty-year-old. He is a strong and strapping youth of few words but he loves to work, especially with Len. There are secrets kept from him, especially about his origins and who his mother is. When Wrecker is eight years old, Willow makes a trip to the prison to visit Lisa Fay and comes back with a picture of Wrecker with his mother and father, along with the story of his beginnings. She wants to tell Wrecker about his birth mother but after a huge argument on the farm, mostly of Melody’s doing, it is decided that this is not the right time and it will have to wait.

The book is about the interactions of the folks all sharing their lives during the 1960’s, a time when hope was high and communal living thought possible. We see the people as they relate to Wrecker and as they deal with their present and their pasts. They all bring baggage to the farm but try hard to keep it out of their communal lives.

This is a soft book, one of love and bounties overflowing. It is a story of learning how to do the right thing by trial and error but always with the good of everyone at the forefront. Summer Wood gives us this gentle and lovely book that is nostalgic for people of a certain age and accessible for readers of any age.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 3 readers
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury USA (February 15, 2011)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Another childhood:

Room by Emma Donoghue

Another commune:

Drop City by T.C. Boyle


February 17, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: California, Contemporary, Family Matters

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.