HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Ten Miles from Winnemucca
Author: Thelma Hatch Wyss
Cover Illustrator: Vince Natale
Publisher: HarperTeen, republished 2004
ISBN-13: 978-0060297848 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0060297840 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0064473347 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0064473341 Paperback
Related website(s): http://www.harperchildrens.com
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 13 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Wyss, Thelma Hatch. Ten Miles from Winnemucca (Published in 2002 by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10019). Martin J. “Marty” Miller, age sixteen, has lived all his life in Winnmucca, NV, with his mother, whom he calls “Mom Miller,” a second grade teacher. His father Charles, an engineer, died from cancer when Marty was five. His best friend is Pete, and Marty has no complaints about his life until his mother’s remarriage to a wealthy stepfather named Lester, whom he calls “Mr. Joe Wonderful,” of Seattle, WA. When the couple leaves for a long European honeymoon, Marty finds his belongings jettisoned from the second-story window of Joe’s house by his stringy-haired new stepbrother Burgess and his cronies. So Marty loads his beloved red Jeep with his bike and belongings and heads off down the road back towards Nevada, until hunger and a nearly empty gas tank land him in Red Rock, ID, a place as good as any other.
Deciding not to go on to Winnemucca, Marty demonstrates some ingenuity, soon enrolls in school at Woodland High, secures a job slinging burgers at the Burger Box, and lives in his Jeep, which he hides at a critter-filled campsite in the back country off Foothill Road in Little Red Rock Canyon. Also, he makes a new friend named Phillip and even picks up an unsolicited girlfriend, Diantha Dragon, whose all black dress and freewheeling style both repel and attract him. How does Marty manage to get along, especially as thoughts of what and where home truly is tug at his heart? What happens when his Jeep goes missing? And will he stay in Red Rock or will he return to Seattle? I was a sixteen year old boy once. I suppose that every teenage boy encounters situations where he would like to leave home and live by himself for a while. Marty actually does it.
The book contains little that is objectionable. Marty says “heck” and “darn” a lot. He tells us that, after arriving in Red Rock and parking overnight on the street, he “shouted obscene words to nobody” until he was hoarse, but no obscene words are actually used. Diantha engages in a little bit of shoplifting, which horrifies Marty. Some kissing occurs, and there are a couple of references to drinking beer and wine. This pleasing, well-paced story with a sympathetic, resilient hero who has considerable reader appeal is told with a quirky, self-deprecating sense of humor. For all his success in achieving a marginal existence, Marty learns the same lesson that Dorothy came to understand in The Wizard of Oz, that there’s no place like home.