Book Review: A Mile of Dreams

September 24, 2010 04:03 AM
 

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A Mile of Dreams is a fine, multi-textured first novel by Jim Trevis. On the surface, it is a classic coming-of-age story about a rural Minnesota dairy farm kid struggling to achieve rookie athletic glory. On a deeper reading, the novel is more about the straining of family relationships as rural culture transitions from isolated, one-family farms to modern, commercial agriculture.

A Mile of Dreams gives an extremely accurate portrayal of the sheer volume of work a 50-cow dairy farm requires, consuming nearly every waking hour of the family.

Because of the workload, the farm boy, Joe, has never been allowed to participate in school sports.

Now in his senior year, he finally convinces his father to allow him to run track. In the process of helping Joe achieve his dreams, his parents also come of age, discovering that relationships—parents to son, husband to wife—are far more important than farm mortgages.

And therein lies the novel’s true message. Urban readers, generations removed from agriculture, need this novel. Life on a dairy farm is not and never was the idyllic situation they think they see as they speed by at 60 mph. Farmers are real people with real relationships that can become as challenged as those of any two-earner family in the largest city.

But while trying to keep their relationships whole, farmers must also cope with the vagaries of livestock, weather, machinery breakdowns, fatigue and global markets. Only the toughest survive this maelstrom.

Note: A Mile of Dreams contains some adult content and is not suitable for children younger than high school age.

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