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LEAN ON PETE (edition 2010)


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2512645,664 (4.15)28
Info:FABER AND FABER (2010), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Box 3, Your library

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Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin


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I really like Willy Vlautin, both his music - as leader of Richmond Fontaine (I actually brought this book at a gig), and as a writer. His songs are like digests of his novels, full of sad characters from the disadvantaged edge of society, yet often tinged with optimism.
His writing style is simple but elegant, drawing you into the world of his characters. In this book Charley and Pete (who is very his own horse and a key character in this story) are definitely victims, not so much "of the system" because they are almost totally outside it, but of life itself. But what Charley really wants is to become a part of the system and he remains stubbornly optimistic to the end.
This is my third Willy Vlautin book and I own everything Richmond Fontaine have released. I look forward to sharing more words and music in the future.
( )
  johnwbeha | Nov 18, 2015 |
Lean on Pete opens as 15-year-old Charley Thompson and his father are settling into a house in Portland, Oregon, having recently left Spokane, Washington. The story is told from Charley's perspective, so we never learn exactly why they left Spokane, but it seems his father, a truck driver, is trying to stay just one step ahead of trouble. Sometimes Charley awakens to strange women in the house, cuddling up with his dad. but for the most part, Charley is left on his own, and often for days at a time while his father is working. He begins every day with a long run around the town and then meanders around killing time and looking forward to the start of the school year when he plans to try out for the football team. With a meager allowance from his father he is able to feed himself, but often resorts to stealing from the supermarket.

Charley begins hanging out at a run-down racetrack and meets Del, a seedy horse trainer. Del agrees to pay Charley to do jobs around the stable, and Charley develops a fondness for Lean on Pete, one of Del's horses. Charley spends more and more time at the stable, even sleeping there overnight when his house begins to feel unsafe (there's a big spoiler lurking there ...). Charley begins to see Del as the tough and unscrupulous man that he is, and when he fears Pete may be at risk in Del's care, he takes matters into his own hands.

At this point, the novel becomes more intense and heartbreaking. Charley faces situations no 15-year-old should ever have to deal with, and while he does his best, he is ill-equipped to cope. The adults in his life consistently let him down. His resilience eventually pays off, but not without a lot of hardship and sadness along the way. Some parts of this book deal with animal cruelty, and especially sensitive readers should probably steer clear. Aside from that, I highly recommend this gritty novel. ( )
2 vote lauralkeet | Nov 1, 2015 |
Brutal. ( )
  RachelGMB | Aug 5, 2015 |
Absolutely did not expect this book. Could not put it down. Could not finish it. Cried on the subway. Put it down. Came back to it. Dreamed about it after it was gone. Such compact language and storytelling, the signs that the author was a songwriter were everywhere to me. Took my breath away. ( )
  Caryn.Rose | Mar 18, 2015 |
What a read. The only time I put it down was when I was crying too hard to continue. I don't know which is more difficult to process - how cruel humans can be or for their moments of kindness. Looking forward to reading more by this author but must read something light in between. ( )
  viviennestrauss | Aug 10, 2014 |
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Left homeless by the death of his father, fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson sets off with a racehorse, Lean on Pete, on a perilous trek from Portland, Oregon to Wyoming to find a distant aunt, hoping to regain stability in his life.

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