Title: Walk the Wild Road
Author: Nigel Hinton
Pub Date: January 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction
Leo took one step forward and then stopped. This was it-the road away from everything he knew. He could turn back. But then who would save his family from starvation? No, Leo was their last hope. He must go on...My Thoughts:
The journey is not easy-he'll have to sleep on the streets, steal food, and even fight off greedy soldiers. Along the way, Leo discovers the kindness of strangers and the loyalty of friends. But he also learns there are some people you just can't trust, especially when you're on the wild road to America. -- Goodreads
Like I've said in several of my other recent historical fiction reviews, I don't know why I never just go out and pick up historical fiction. Someone always has to recommend the book to me or I have to read a bunch of good reviews before I read historical fiction. That really needs to change; Walk the Wild Road was a wonderful historical adventure story and I'd highly recommend it to middle reader/teen boys.
A historical adventure story sounds like it would be geared towards a younger boy audience, but Hinton doesn't shy away from the difficulties of life in the 1870s. The realities of war, political unrest, poverty, illness, and violence are presented in such a way that they feel true to the time period, but not inappropriate for younger readers. This isn't a fluffy boy adventure story -- it's a more adult adventure story. I feel that sometimes historical fiction writers gloss over some the realities of earlier time periods because they don't think teens will "get it" or that it's too violent or difficult for teens to handle. Teens need to really understand what people really went through and how difficult it was for many immigrants to make their way to America. Hinton had done a really wonderful job of showing life in the 1870s in Europe.
Beyond historical significance, I really liked Leo and almost all the major players in the novel. He was strong and determined to get to America and to help his family, but he isn't an unrealistic super-hero type character. Things doesn't always go well for Leo and he doesn't save the day. He gets through hardships because he has to. It was really refreshing to read a realism "boy" adventure book.
I think this book would be a great one for teachers to use when teaching European history. It really paints a picture of everyday life during the turmoil of the 1870s, while being entertaining and action filled.