Trying to locate a childhood book

I am looking for a book that I read in the early 1960’s. Most likely intended for 12 to 14 year olds. All I rememeber is that a young indian boy who had befriended a bear grew up to enter into the white mans society as a rodeo rider I believe. He struggled with alcoholism, fighting and legal problems and finaly made it back to the woods and inner peace. Toward the end of the book he had to kill the bear he had befriended as a child. I never comprehended why he had to kill the bear and would like to go back and reread the book and then gift it to my grandson.

When the Legends Die by Hal Borland. First published in 1963, it is still in print.

You are misremembering though. He hunts a bear because it’s been killing his livestock, but in the end chooses not to kill the bear.

I read this book when I was in high school. I started on a Friday evening and didn’t put it down again until early Sunday morning, it’s that good!

I loved many such books in my youngest days, through maybe early junior high. I’ve stopped going back to find them, though, because 9 out of 10 turn out to be… well, a great deal less than my 8-12yo self thought they were. A few were so wretched I had to make sure I had the right book.

Some things are best left in the warm, safe vault of memory. Just sayin’.

I was sure you were thinking of a different book until I went and checked it out. Funny how I could misremember a key part of the story. At the time I was really upset he wanted to kill the bear. I do now rememeber that he chose not to.

Judging by the publishing date I was at least 14 when I read it, I thought I was about 12. This would have fallen right into a transitional stage in my life where marijuana, drugs, alcohol and sex were comming into play. I was a nature loving boy and I can see now why I related to it so much. Maybe I won’t buy it for my grandson afterall.

Well, buy it cheap or find a library copy and give it a quick read. Maybe it is one of the good ones.

(Wouldn’t count on finding it in a library, though. YA lit tends to push out the older stuff… the early classics pushed out by 50s stuff, that pushed out by 60s-70s glurge, that pushed out by 80s-90s “deep relevance” stuff, that pushed out by HarryFuckingPotter and endless serial stuff…)

I looked, and there are copies available for loan from four libraries in our system. Not everything gets ‘pushed out’, and libraries can borrow books from other libraries if you request.

Fascinating! I read this book when I was eleven – my sixth-grade music teacher happened to be reading it, and it was on his desk – and I was just barely old enough to “get it.”

About ten years ago, in my mid-thirties, I decided to track it down – I couldn’t remember the title, but I did remember the protagonist’s rodeo name was Tom Black. I found it, bought it on Amazon, and reread parts of it. It held up well.

I’m amazed that someone else on the Dope went through essentially the same experience! Of all the books in the world. Weird.

My “fail” book was City Under the Sea, by (IIRC) Gerry Lestrange. I read the covers off a Scholastic Books edition in maybe 5th-6th grade and had deeply fond memories of it. Around 30, in the pre-ABE, pre-internet days, I located a copy through a Fido forum inquiry.

It was wretched writing, grade-Z plotting, the heroes were cardboard and the wonderful last survivor of the ancient cities of earth was an obnoxious, preening jerk. In the words of ET, owwwwwwchhhh.

It may not hold up to your adult tastes, but it may be just perfect for a child the same age you were when you loved it. Your grandson may appreciate as much as you did then, even if it turns out you’ve outgrown it now.

The book has excellent reviews from young men and does seem to be one of those books that adult men like to go back and revisit.

As I said above, I read it in high school, and then I went back and read it again sometime (maybe 15–20 years) later.

I got through it much faster the second time, but my enjoyment of it was almost as great as when I first read it in 1972.

I was a great reader as a child, and I have gone back and re-read a lot of them and enjoyed the process because as an adult, I now ‘get’ some of the stuff that I didn’t understand. “National Velvet” - set in 30’s England. “Little Women” - set in New England in Civil War days. I was mystified at first readings by the slang, the customs, even articles of clothing and food. Now - I know what castle puddings, muslins, pickled limes, and a carriage called a ‘cherry bounce’ means!