Two Roads

Written by Joseph Bruchac
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

After losing his farm and his mother to the hard times of the 1930s Depression, twelve-year-old Cal Black and his beloved Pop Will have become “knights of the road” … hobos. They ride the rails with their own survival skills, network, and creed. Life is hard and dangerous, but they find many moments of grace along the way.

But when Will learns of the Bonus Army of fellow World War I vets forming to march on Washington, he decides he has to join them to try and convince the government to give promised pay, so that he and Cal can start a farm again. Will decides to travel to the Oklahoma boarding school where he himself was raised and enroll Cal. But that means telling him a secret: that he is a Creek Indian.

The double shock leaves Cal reeling, but he faces his new life at school with courage. He’s treated with ignorance, cruelty, or indifference by most of his teachers, but quickly bonds with the Creek gang, and learns much about his paternal heritage and the ways of his own and other Indian nations. Cal has the empathetic gift of Sight, and when he senses his father in mortal danger, he decides to escape the school to warn Will of the coming violence in Washington.

The bond between father and son in this funny, exciting and soulful story is palpable. In the tradition of Gary Paulson and Paul Zindel, this young adult novel rises above its conventions to tell a story that will touch the heart and stir the soul. Highly recommended.