Cover image for Borderlands
Carter, Peter.
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Publication Information:
New York, NY : Farrar Straus Giroux, 1990.
Physical Description:
423 pages ; 22 cm
Cowboys and settlers, lawmen and outlaws, buffalo hunters, bankruptcy, but most of all the vast, haunting and haunted Great Plains all feature in this epic novel that tells how the West really was.
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FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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After being forced from his meager family farm in Texas in 1871, thirteen-year-old Ben Curtis witnesses some of the excitement and cruelty of the Old West--on a cattle drive, in a frontier town, and on a buffalo hunt.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 8-12. An ambitious, panoramic tale, Carter's impressive novel takes seriously its intent to portray the Old West as it really was. An introduction challenges the myth that the West was a shoot-'em-up place (though people certainly got killed), and the experiences of Carter's protagonist, a boy named Ben Curtis, definitely highlight the reality rather than the romance of life on the range. That perspective, plus Carter's skillful style and sense of plot and pace, ensures that this very long book never really has a slow stretch. The story concerns what happens to Ben when he and his brother become destitute and find work driving cattle north to Abilene. The narrative spans several years and portrays the major events of that era: long, dangerous cattle drives; the destruction of the buffalo, and with them, the Plains Indians; the financial panic of 1873, which affected virtually everyone; and perhaps most importantly, the prejudiced attitudes common to the region, where blacks and Indians were hated. It's Ben's laconic (and sometimes salty) drawl one hears throughout, as he recalls the turbulent days of his youth and sets forth some eye-opening information for today's readers. Vivid and enlightening, this is a fine piece of social history cast in the form of a very absorbing novel. ~--Denise Wilms

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8-12-- A triad of short novels marketed as one. In the first section, Texas orphans Ben Curtis, 13, and his older brother, Bo, join a cattle drive. Bo is shot in Abilene; his murderer is allegedly killed somewhat later. In the second section, Ben goes to Dodge City and sets up a store for himself. The panic of 1873 does him in; he signs up with a buffalo hunter as camp cook. The third section is on the killing of the buffalo. Ben graduates to carcass flayer and hide scraper. The buffalo are about gone, and the Indians are restless. To try to tie everything up, Bo's killer reappears and goes after Ben. In the nick of time Indians appear. One skewers Bo's killer with a lance; another clubs Ben. The first part is interesting. The second part is Dick Whittington-ish and slogging reading. The third part is graphic and preachy about the slaughter of buffalo. If marketed as three novels, Parts I and III could succeed--in spite of the 1980s terms embedded in 1870s language. As one enormous first-person narration, this will probably be a real shelf-sitter waiting for a weeding. Oh, yes--in places Carter uses too many cuss words. --George Gleason, Department of English, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.