The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, is the story of a young boy, Jody Baxter, who lives in the backwoods of Florida and must fight off panthers, bears, and wolves as he and his family struggle to make a living. The Baxters' nearest neighbors live four miles away, and they have a son nicknamed Fodder-wing. Fodder-wing harbors an intense love for all things wild, and he owns a baby raccoon, a squirrel, a possum, a bird, and a bear cub (among other things). Jody desperately yearns for a pet of his own, but his mother absolutely will not allow it. So, one lonely night, when Jody stumbles upon a young, orphaned fawn belonging to the doe his father shot, he decides to take it in. Although his mother protests at first, it is his father Penny who casts the deciding vote--to let Jody keep the fawn.
Their relationship grows into one of love and companionship. Jody cannot bear to be away from the fawn for long, and it is unhappy when parted with him. But as the fawn, dubbed Flag, slowly grows from baby to yearling, the trouble begins. Flag has a steadily growing appetite, and the Baxter crops fall prey to the ravenous deer. Jody tries everything under his power to keep Flag away from his family's food supply, but deep inside himself he knows that eventually he will have to part with Flag.
This book was okay. At the beginning I thought it was great, then in the middle it lost its flavor and I just wanted to be over with it, then at the end it perked up again. I loved the last sentence of the book, when Jody was reflecting on how in this one year he had grown from a boy to a man, and how the loss of his fawn had affected that change, "Somewhere beyond the sink-hole, past the magnolia, under the live oaks, a boy and a yearling ran side by side, and were gone forever."
I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
This book was an alternate for the Chunkster Challenge (hooray, I finished another challenge!) and I used it for the Book Awards II.