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Westward, Home! (Into the West) by J. A.…
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Westward, Home! (Into the West)

by J. A. Campbell

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I've been following the writings of J.A. Campbell for quite a while now, and haven't had one bad experience reading her fiction. Now I usually keep my reading to the "adult" realm (being an advanced adult of 50something) but once in a while I get pulled into a good young adult story. J.A. Campbell's stories usually do this, as well as Lili Saintcrow's Y/A writing. It takes a good YA storyteller to keep my interest - because it's hard for a woman of 50 + years to stay interested in the doings of teens unless the teens are interesting enough to want to follow.

Fortunately, Tina of the Into The West series is a character I enjoy reading. Written in the second person, her voice is strong and interesting. And she still sounds enough like a teenager to make the story work. It's hard to review short stories from a serial style of fiction without posting serious spoilers. The basic plot of the entire series is of a young woman who moves westward with her family when her father's work takes him to an area that is like a ghost town. Desert climate, along with an extreme change in population is just one of the challenges that Tina faces. Tina is a citygirl, a teen used to mall shopping, manicures, shopping for fun, fashion, cell phone/texting etc. All the perks of big city living. Tina also has a love of horses - which might be the one thing that she is looking forward to with being forced to live in a hot little town in Arizona with no malls, spotty cell phone service and all that sun that wreaks havoc on the skin, hair and nails that is so important to a teen. So moving to a small town in a desert area must be culture shock.

Refreshingly, Tina's character isn't one of those sullen hate all family and adult types of teens. This girl, though used to shopping, fashion, pampered nails and all is the type of girl who gets along with her family and is a friendly type of girl. During the course of the previous installments of Into The West, Tina has been learning how to ride a horse ranch style, has been learning how to work on a ranch, has met a handsome young man from the past and become involved with a range war situation in the past, while trying to make some friends in the present and getting a little bit of help in all of this from a medicine man called Eli. Most of this she has to keep quiet from her family - because, who would believe that she's been in and out of the past?

Westward, Home! is a fun ending to the series. Tina travels to the past one last time to help her new crush and his employer. Tina and a new friend, Angie {the apprentice of medicine man Eli} end up in a few scary, suspenseful situations and in a turn from the usual they end up rescuing a man instead of having to be rescued. I have fun reading these type of adventures. This was no exception. This final adventure with Tina, Rowe and the rest of the characters was a satisfying read.

There's just enough danger and excitement to keep one on the edge of the seat without being overwhelming for a younger teen. And the dialogue - the dialogue fits all the characters. This is very important to me - this can make or break a book experience for me. Campbell does an excellent job making her characters sound and speak like a cowboy, a young teen of the 21st century, a sometimes annoying younger sister and parents trying to be understanding while being firm. And the budding romance between this young teen from the present and the young man from the past - just enough is hinted that you finish reading the book believing that somehow, they're going to have a future together. It's sweet.

This is a young adult miniseries that I'm happy to have read. I think it would be great to have the whole five sections in one novel someday. I believe this was contracted to be a serial style, but I like it enough that I'd love to have it in print in to read to my grandchildren when they're a little older. Although by then, we may all be using e-readers, so maybe I'm ahead of the game. :) ( )
  Mardel | May 23, 2012 |
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