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Sodbusters are about equal to farm animals on the social scale of the ranching community of Wyoming in the 1870s. Zach and Carrie Bennett, teenaged children of that wretched class, are determined to escape the scorn. They resolve to trek to Texas on foot. They are babes on the prairie, ignorant of the geography and hostility. This incredible journey through the lawless West reveals human nature at its most base and unveils a capacity for violence the brother and sister never believed possible in themselves. But they also discover the other side of humanity.
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The book takes place in the 1870s Wyoming. The protagonists are Zack and Carrie Bennett, teenager children of a homesteader. They live in a Soddy; McCarthy provides an excellent description of how a Soddy is built and the benefits and problems with living in one. The author goes into an excellent review of the Homestead Act and then the problems the farmers had moving into Wyoming where the land was better suited to ranching than farming.
The father is an angry man unable to control his rage and beats the family. Carrie’s life is saved by a Texas cowboy named Rio; she falls in love with him and plans on getting married but he takes off and leaves her. Zack wants to be a cowboy. After a prairie fire destroys everything the teenagers set off for Texas to find Rio. Along the way they have good adventures and bad ones. The ending was a bit different than I expected.
The book is well written and moves along at a good pace. The author tossed in enough factual information about life in the 1870s to enhance the realism of the story. The book held my attention and was an easy relaxing read. Gene Engene narrated the book. He is becoming one of my favorite narrators for a western genre book.
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