Prudence is a published author.
Well, to be honest and forthcoming, she did write a YA book entitled
The Sun Doesn't Forgive, a "parable about the ramifications of global warming
and the need for personal responsibility." (Just what every teen wants to read, eh?)
She realizes her "book deal was largely a matter of timing," and a good friend's
well-meaning advocacy with her publisher, stating this book was "a sure thing."
She was "booked to speak at nearly every middle and high school in the state"
by the publishing company.
Although the teachers weren't very interested in the subject...
they were enthusiasm personified compared to the kids, who were often actively hostile.
I was chum in the shark tank at my readings. (5)
Yep! This is it! This self-deprecating mildly mocking humor makes this book such an enjoyable read. Juby's sarcasm and wit are timely and well-done.
We learn that Prudence really dreams of becoming a sustainable farmer.
...for me there came that moment during every visit
to the farmers' market when I wanted more.
I wanted to be the one standing behind the folding table,
a truck of organic produce at my back, displaying my heirloom tomatoes and baby potatoes. I want to be the one handing over glossy leaves of swiss chard at a reasonable price and talking knowledgeably about my mushroom patch.
The one looking cold and somewhat chapped about the face
and hands, yet more alive than anyone else in
unfashionable rubber boots and dirty pants.
Obviously, I had no desire to be the one in the lace-edged
bonnet accompanied by a stern-faced, black-hatted man
and a brood of six children.
I want to be that other person at the farmers' market.
The one with ideals and produce to sell. (1)
Needless to say, Earl, who had stayed on the farm with Prudence's Great-Uncle Harold for decades is shocked to learn he is only entitled to 10% of the earnings from or sale of the farm. Whereas Prudence has inherited the actual land and buildings. Though it sounds as if the land isn't fertile/productive, basically full of rock once you dig down a few inches. So Prudence wisely decides to haul in dirt and create raised beds for the organic produce she intends to raise. Once she realizes there is no barn, she begins asking whether "rural people still enjoy barn raising." Earl is a grumbler and a grump and the juxtaposition of these two constantly being together creates much humor, as he grumbles indistinctly about "goddamn Mennonites." ;) Prudence worked as a barista in New York and the coffee she served "could burn the nuts off a lumberjack," according to Earl, who likened it to "drinking engine grease."
The aforementioned Seth is displaced from his bedroom in his mother's house by her boyfriend, who is moving in and will be using the extra bedroom to store his remote control helicopter parts. No kidding... :) So he loads up his stuff and walks across the road to knock on Prudence's door, asking for a place to stay, which she grants to him, in exchange for work. I immediately suspect this little deal will probably not last long, given that Seth appears to be a fairly unmotivated person about anything much other than consuming alcohol. Oh, and, of all the irony...blogging! ;) He maintains two blogs, one about heavy metal bands and the other about celebrity gossip.
Prudence then inherits chickens from Sara Spratt, a very smart and motivated child of eleven years of age who is determined to be a leader. As you might expect, Sara actually ends up living on the farm, too. Her mother basically drops her off, abandoning her, as she goes somewhere to get some help for her emotional instability, and hopefully to file for divorce from an abusive husband. Since there is no outbuilding where the chickens can live, they undertake to construct one:
Sara is determined they care for Bertie, the lone half-shorn sheep. However, once they try to trim her way overgrown, distorted hooves, and then try to shear her, chaos ensues and blood is everywhere...on Gertie, Seth, and Earl! It is just as Prudence is attempting to sort all this out that an extremely handsome man in an oversized gas-guzzling pickup truck shows up. This would be Dr. Eustace Smith, the local veterinarian, checking to see if they had a sheep and what condition it was in. Prudence feels it necessary to lie, though the truth is eventually revealed. Dr. Smith is useful though since he evidently overcame his own addiction challenges and becomes Seth's "sponsor" as he tries to quit drinking. And there is the fact that Prudence seems to be wild about him and he really likes her. On their first date, Prudence thinks to herself:
Republic of Dirt: Return to Woefield,
that you "enjoyed,"