Shane by Jack Scheafer

Novel: Shane

Author: Jack Scheafer

Target Audience: Originally intended for adults, but popular with younger/teen readers

Genre: Classic; Western

Publication Year: 1949

Setting: Wyoming Territory; 1889

A Favorite Quote: “He picked him up like—like a bag of potatoes and threw him clear across the room.”

My One Sentence Summary: A stranger rides into the valley at a time when tension between the local rancher and the newer homesteaders is building, and the lives of the homesteading Starrett family are changed forever.

What I loved about this book: This story has all the elements of a good Western. It starts when a mysterious stranger rides into town. He wears no gun. Even so, it’s not long before the first punch is thrown, ending ultimately in an old-fashioned showdown. The characters in this story have the moral fiber expected of “the good guys” in an old Western, and though little of the protagonist’s past is known at the end of the story, Shane’s character has been explored in great detail as the fight between the homesteaders and the local rancher escalates.

 Major themes: The virtues of duty and sacrifice; fighting for cause greater than oneself; the need for heroes and role models; the rewards of perseverance

Who should read this book: This book is a great introduction to the Western genre. Some readers find the start a bit slow (particularly chapter three), but once Luke Fletcher returns to town…all bets are off. The bar fights (notice, it’s plural) have been especially popular with boy readers in my class.