Reviews for Bull Rider

Booklist Reviews 2009 January #1
Cam O Mara, 14, is a champion skateboarder, and when he is not helping out on the family desert ranch, he is practicing his moves with his friends in his small Nevada town. But when his older brother, Ben, comes home from the Iraq War severely injured and depressed, everything changes. Ben was a champion bull-rider, and Cam makes a pact with his brother to continue the family tradition: if Cam rides the bull to win, Ben will not give up hope that he can rebuild his life. That connection is a bit of a stretch, but the mix of wild macho action with family anguish and tenderness will grab teens. Driven by his brother s pain, Cam is determined to prove himself in the dangerous bull ring, even if it means faking his identity and lying to his family. Told in a clipped, first-person narrative, this first novel makes the sports details of skateboarding and bull-riding part of the powerful contemporary story of family, community, and work.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 January #1
In this Nevada ranching community, riding the bulls is the community sport. Grandfather, father and big brother have all excelled, but Cam prefers skateboarding. At 14, he has immersed himself in his chosen recreation, with family, school and ranch work lagging behind. When elder brother Ben, a Marine, suffers a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan and is shipped home, he becomes top priority for the whole family. Cam's discovery that the intensity required for bull riding is appealing sets off a chain of events that leads to an attempt to ride "Ugly," a bull that no one has ever stayed on for the requisite eight seconds. The details of recovery from debilitating injury are vividly portrayed, as well as the cost to the family of supporting their son. As Cam's world changes, the adrenaline highs balance with introspection, revealing Cam pondering his place in the world and trying to honestly deal with the results of the war. Our current military entanglements are seldom presented for teens, and this currency lifts an otherwise pedestrian effort. Surprisingly G-rated and accessible. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 April

Gr 6-9--Cam O'Mara, 14, has never ridden a bull in his life and doesn't want to, despite coming from a family of prizewinning riders in Winnemucca, NV. But when his older brother comes back paralyzed from Iraq, he gives up skateboarding for bull riding, much to the dismay of his mother and skater best friend. Partly, Cam is rebelling to get attention, but ultimately he is trying to help with the family's finances, needed to pay for travel to and from Ben's extensive rehabilitation in Palo Alto, CA. When Cam secretly enters a $15,000-prize competition using a fake ID, the family somewhat unrealistically joins together to support him afterward. Williams does an adequate job of capturing the small-town sense of community and pride and explains the rodeo lingo well enough. However, the narrative and dialogue fail to involve readers on more than a rudimentary level. Despite the timeliness of the topic, the audience for this book is limited to those with a real interest in the sport. For an emotionally charged read with a 14-year-old male protagonist, a strong sense of place, and gripping account of how a family copes in the aftermath of tragedy, suggest Gary D. Schmidt's Trouble (Clarion, 2008).--Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library

[Page 144]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.