Reviews for Running With Trains

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
With Dad M.I.A. in Vietnam and Mom back in school, thirteen-year-old Perry takes the train back and forth between Gran's and Mom's every week; Steve is a lonely nine-year-old on an Ohio farm, enamored with the train that passes through his family's property. Both boys' alternating voices are unique and poignant in this verse novel about self-discovery and the nature of home.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #2
The differing worlds of two boys come together in this intriguing novel in poems set in rural Ohio. Rosen, a talented poet with a penchant for haiku (The Hound Dog's Haiku, 2011, etc.), here stretches in a more narrative form to show a slightly older crowd that the grass isn't necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. The story begins as 13-year-old Perry makes the train trip from his grandmother's for his weekly visit with his mother. Captured by the farm landscape flying by his window, Perry notes that "Nothing's for keeps," and longs for more permanence in what feels like a very transitory life. He is waiting for his father, missing in action in Vietnam, to return; for his sister, who's left the fold to promote world peace, to respond to his letters; for his mother to finish nursing school so they can resume the life they knew prior to his father's going to war. Watching that same train, whose tracks bisect his family's farm, is 9-year-old Steve, who feels trapped by the constancy of his doting parents and farm chores and wishes he could ride that train to exotic locales, recognizing all the while, though, that "coming home has to be a part / of going away." Cows straying from Steve's pasture bring the two boys together briefly for a reality check, but mostly the novel's poems alternate between the voices of these young foils, adding a refreshing immediacy to their intimate reflections on home life and the nature of happiness. A thoughtful, beautifully image-laden tale of learning how to appreciate what one has. (Poetry. 11 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 May #1

This understated novel from Rosen (The Hound Dog's Haiku) is composed of alternating poems written from the perspectives of two boys whose lives briefly intersect. The year is 1969, and 13-year-old Perry travels via train between his grandparents' houses in Cincinnati and Wapakoneta, Ohio. In his notebook, he reflects on his father, who is missing in Vietnam; writes to his sister, Annie; and struggles with feelings of rootlessness: "What's home to me since I have two homes now/ (one with Mom and Grandpa, one with Gran),/ two closets of clothes, two desks,/ two beds where I sleep, two dogs." Nine-year-old Steve, weighed down by chores, is both fascinated and a little intimidated by the larger world outside his family's farm ("With luck, one day/ I'll ride the train--the whole route--/ not just dream it"). Rosen's poetry, mostly blank verse, circles contemplatively around themes of powerlessness, longing, and growing up. The novel travels at a satisfying hum, though Steve and Perry's quiet reflections have a restraint at times too timid to leave a lasting impression. Ages 10-up. Agent: Ruben Pfeffer, East West Literary. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 August

Gr 5-7--It is 1969. Thirteen-year-old Perry's father is MIA in Vietnam. Nine-year-old Steve is stuck working on the family farm. Each week Perry rides the Cincinnatian across rural Ohio from his grandmother's house to visit his mother, who is away trying to earn a nursing degree, and contemplates his transient life. Steve dreams of escaping the routine of farm life. Their lives briefly intersect throughout the book as they catch glimpses of one another through the train window and imagine how much greener the grass must be in the other's experience. The result is an introspective, quiet portrait of two boys on the brink of young adulthood. The tumultuous era in which their tale is set enters into the picture periodically, most frequently in the form of references to Perry's father and his absent, hippie sister, and sets a fitting backdrop for the boys' inner unrest. Rosen delivers well-crafted verse and plays with a few different poetic forms to paint a vivid portrait of the Ohio landscape, but as the plot ultimately goes little further than that described above, the book will likely struggle to find an audience.--Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

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