Friday, June 25, 2010

...And Now Miguel, by Joseph Krumgold

... And Now Miguel is set on a New Mexico family's sheep farm in the mid-twentieth century. The protagonist is Miguel, a 12-year-old boy who finds that "it is not so easy, being Miguel." The way he sees it, his seven-year-old younger brother has it pretty easy because he doesn't want much - he's happy being a kid, and happy with the amount of work he is and isn't expected to do. His older brother has it pretty easy too, because he's 19 and whatever he wants, he can get. But Miguel, he wants a lot, but can't get it. Mostly, he wants to go to the mountains with the men when they drive the sheep there for the summer - every year, he packs a bag just in case at the last minute his father should decide that this is the year Miguel should join them. But he never does.

This year, Miguel decides it's finally going to happen if he can do anything about it. He works hard on the farm, through lambing and shearing, and works up the courage to ask his father and his grandfather if he can join the men in the mountains this year. When they say no, there is only one person left to ask - the village's patron saint, St Ysidro. And it works, in a way. Only Miguel hadn't counted on how St Ysidro would make it happen, and he learns an important lesson about life. Everything comes at a cost. And it's not always like at the store, where you can put something back if you decide it costs too much.

I loved this book  - it's a gorgeous look at life on a sheep farm in a traditional New Mexican community, told in a matter-of-fact way. According to the book jacket, the author worked on a documentary film chronicling this basic story before writing the book; a quick glance at Wikipedia tells me that it shares a name with the book, and came out in 1953. I'll see if I can find it, and see how it is.

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