Cover image for Dove song
Dove song
Franklin, Kristine L.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
190 pages ; 22 cm
When eleven-year-old Bobbie Lynn's father is reported missing in action in Vietnam, she and her thirteen-year-old brother must learn to cope with their own despair, as well as their mother's breakdown.
Reading Level:
590 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.2 7.0 47307.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 13 Quiz: 20244 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



As a young college student in the early 1970s, Laurie Wagner had never camped out, never gone hiking, and never lived without electricity or indoor plumbing. Yet she walked away from these comforts and headed for the wildest reaches of Montana to live with a man she had not met in person.

When I Came West is Laurie Wagner Buyer's account of her terrifying and exhilarating years in Montana as she changes from a girl too squeamish to touch a dead mouse to a toughened frontierswoman unafraid to butcher a domestic animal. Living in a cabin far away from family and friends, with the nearest neighbor four miles away, Laurie finds herself caught up in two love affairs: one with the volatile Vietnam vet Bill and one with the untamed West--even as she recognizes, in the words of one neighbor, "It is plumb foolishness to love something that cannot love you back."

While her relationship with Bill grows precarious, Laurie forges a lasting relationship with her surroundings: the rivers, the wildlife, and the people who inhabit such remote corners. Peeling away the romance of escaping to the wilderness, When I Came West reveals the brutality and bounty of a world far removed from modern urban life.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-10. When Bobbie Lynn's father is sent to Vietnam, her mother moves the family to Seattle to be closer to his base. But Mama is unable to cope without her husband, and when she hears that he is missing in action, she has a nervous breakdown and takes to her bed. Bobbie Lynn and her brother are left not only to care for their mother and scramble for money but also to carry the burden of keeping Mama's condition a secret for fear of being turned over to the state. Bobbie Lynn has the fortune of finding a friend in Wendy, an outcast at school like herself, who welcomes Bobbie Lynn into her family and shows her how to whistle through her thumbs, a practice that arouses a flock of doves living in a nearby convent. The relationship provides Bobby Lynn with some relief from her predicament, which seems so unrelenting one wonders how Bobby Lynn will ever trust anyone enough to seek help. Eventually, however, she does. Bobby Lynn's strength and insight remain intact in this moving novel about friendship and responsibility that is at once sorrowful and joyful. Readers who enjoyed Franklin's Eclipse (1995) may like this novel as well and perhaps recognize a few similarities. --Helen Rosenberg

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-As army brats, 11-year-old Bobbie Lynn and her 13-year-old brother Mason have coped with unexpected moves and their mother's "delicate spells" before, but things get much worse when their father is sent to Vietnam. When their mother takes the children from Texas to Tacoma, WA, only Wendy Feeney offers the girl friendship. Bobbie Lynn is frightened, at first, by Wendy's severely retarded twin sister, skeptical of her new friend's deep belief in guardian angels, and puzzled by Mrs. Feeney's opposition to violence. When her father is reported missing in action, her severely depressed mother does nothing but sleep, leaving the children to scrounge for food, forge notes to their teachers, and, ultimately, to spoon-feed her. Only when Bobbie Lynn develops pneumonia does she reach out for the help they desperately need, only to discover that there really are angels all around, human angels, able and willing to give her family support. Franklin convincingly portrays attitudes of the late 1960s; the confusion and disagreement over the war; the Feeney family's open, uncomplicated Catholicism; and the fear and shame associated with handicaps of all kinds. This is both a sensitive story of friendship and family problems and solid historical fiction, especially for those who enjoyed reading about an earlier wartime in Mary Hahn's Stepping on the Cracks (Clarion, 1991) or Patricia Giff's Lily's Crossing (Delacorte, 1997).-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.