The main protagonist, Joe, meets a young, poverty-stricken kid and cares for him. Joe is a hard, older man who runs a small business of cutting down trees. He has a lot of minority males who work for him, and one day he meets a little boy named Gary. Gary is the older son of a homeless family. His father is a drunk who abuses Gary, his younger and older sister, and his mother.
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Eventually, Joe crosses paths with Gary and decides to let the kid and his father come work for him. Joe notices how abusive the father is and finds out that the father takes Gary's hard-earned money. Joe takes up for Gary and develops a soft spot; something the reader would never expect from a man like Joe.
Throughout the book, they grow closer, and Joe starts caring for Gary. He buys the boy clothes, gives him rides home, and helps him get food for the rest of his family.
About halfway through the novel, Gary's older sister runs away from home and is never seen again. It's not clear why she fled. It's later revealed that Gary's father earns money for booze by making the younger sister do things with paying men.
Joe and Gary find this out, and the story ends with Joe telling Gary to take the truck and leave. The two of them are in the woods where Gary's father is doing business with the younger daughter and some men from town. Joe pulls out his gun and tells Gary to take his sister and leave. The reader never truly finds out what happens to any of the characters after that scene.
This novel is a great example of how a character (Joe) can slowly grow and develop into something the reader would never expect. The small, subtle changes in his personality allow the relationship between him and Gary to grow into something powerful for the reader.
Best part of story, including ending:
I really like the character development throughout the story. The one thing I hated was the ambiguous ending.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Joe finds out about Gary's abusive father because that's the point when Joe really begins to care for the boy.
Opinion about the main character:
I like that Joe had a soft spot underneath his hard outer demeanor, enough to risk his life for the boy. The thing I disliked about Joe was the way he treated other people.