Thursday, August 9, 2018

Book Review - The Valiant Wayfarer


After her mother abandons her for a third time, soft-spoken Janey Preston, who just started third grade two weeks before, decides she will not wait around to be taken to the awful Children’s Home again.

She loads up a grocery cart with canned food, water, and her loyal Raggedy-Andy and heads for Highway 25 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, her destination: Trinidad, Colorado, 250 miles north, where her beloved second-grade teacher, Miss Butler, lives and can hopefully give Janey what she’s been yearning for her entire life.

With an impressive blend of Cormac McCarthy’s direst settings and the childhood innocence of Don Robertson, L.M. Stockton captures youthful hope, courage, and determination.


L.M. Stockton was born in 1926 in Raton, New Mexico. Her family were homesteaders and that lifestyle proved a powerful influence in her later fiction writing. She died in 1996, but in the decade prior, Stockton wrote extensively, completing several novels and short stories and leaving one novel unfinished. In her early life, she was an English teacher, having graduated from the University of Denver. She spent her later life as a used-bookstore owner in Albuquerque. She was lifelong friends with Liam Llewellyn's paternal grandmother and the rest of his family.


This book touched my heart in such a huge way! It is a short story that packs a huge punch and I won’t soon forget the story or little Janey.

When we first meet Janey – a little eight-year-old girl – she is coming home from school to find her home empty and her mother and her mother’s boyfriend gone. Janey knows what this means as it’s happened to her before. Her mother has gone off and left her in the little rented house in Albuquerque and won’t be back anytime soon, if ever. Poor Janey is devastated because she doesn’t want to go back to the Children’s Home she went to when her mother did this before. She makes the decision to go to Trinidad, Colorado to see her loving teacher, Miss Butler, who was her second-grade teacher when they lived in Trinidad.

Janey decides to wait a week to see if her mother comes home and makes her plans and talks them over with Andy – her raggedy doll. I love how she talks to Andy and how he is her friend and her comfort. I can just see her clutching her little, soft friend!

The day comes for Janey to leave and she packs a wire, two-wheeled cart with all her things including food and water. She is quite a resourceful girl, but it’s totally believable because we know that she has had to fend for herself many times before when her mother can’t be bothered. Janey thinks she will make it to Trinidad in 2 or 3 days, but, of course, it’s much longer.

We follow along as Janey walks from Albuquerque to Trinidad and her struggles along the way. Andy is right by her side as she determinedly walks with I-25 in her sight, because she knows this is the road to Trinidad.

I really enjoyed this book! Is it believable to think that an eight-year-old could walk 250 miles? I don’t know, but I believed it. Her desire to be loved by someone she knows and to be valued is so great that she is willing to walk for days to get to that love. I think we all need and desire that kind of love and can relate to doing what we need to do to get it. This is a child that has been shown great compassion and care by a teacher and, because she doesn’t have that from her mother, it makes a great impact on her. I really loved this because my own second grade teacher made the same impact on me.

I also enjoyed this book because I am very familiar with Trinidad and that whole area from Albuquerque on to Raton, NM. My husband was raised in both Trinidad and Raton and so I could picture in my mind exactly where Janey was and where she was going. It was fun to read a book about an area so familiar to me.

I absolutely loved this story and all the characters. I enjoyed that the author showed us the best in people and it was such a feel-good story. I highly recommend this book and hope that you will get a copy to read. You won’t be disappointed! I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by and LL Press

Blessings - Julie

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