“I was forced to wander, having no one, forced by my nature to keep wandering because wandering was the only thing that I believed in, and the only thing that believed in me.” ~ Roman Payne
Many of us are blessed with friends and families, traditional or nontraditional, who are there for us when we need them. We often forget there are those, like Jimmy Dorsett, of 'Rattlesnake' by Kim Fielding, who not only doesn't have anyone who loves him but is afraid to even hope someone ever could. Jimmy has learned that hoping for something and not having it leads to even greater despair than not wishing for it at all. However, fate doesn't intend for Jimmy to live his whole life alone and empty. It has better plans for him. These are set in motion by a long overdue message from a father to his son.
Jimmy Dorsett is a kind, polite, considerate, industrious, and intelligent man. Unfortunately, his life has been filled with disappointment and despair. Since he was fourteen years old, he's wandered the country, watching and learning, making up for his lack of education by reading and observation. Somewhere along the way, he's given up on having any more than he presently has. Jimmy tries to tell himself this is okay, that it's all he deserves, at least according to the people who are supposed to be his family. Jimmy has tried to tell himself he likes moving around, that not staying anywhere for any length of time is what he wants. The truth seems to be, as Gracie Slick so aptly put it: “Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.” Jimmy has nothing to lose and everything to gain when he arrives in Rattlesnake with the intent of delivering a dead man's note to his son, Shane Little. Jimmy doesn't expect to meet his possible future, in Shane's arms. No matter how hard Jimmy tries to deny staying is a good idea, he fails miserably. When Jimmy falls in love with Shane, he is filled with doubt. He's always been told how useless he is, how he's never going to have anything and he has believed it. In the face of the goodness he finds in Rattlesnake, not only Shane, but all of the other friendly people who accept him and pitch in to help him, Jimmy can't deny the big part of him who loves the feeling of belonging and wants to stay. Yet, instead of accepting it, he persists in continuing to lie to himself, telling everyone he is eventually going to leave because he's not able to accept that something good would happen to him. The sadness and uncertainty is so deeply engrained in Jimmy's soul, it's going to take something monumental to shake it out.
Shane is a strong, friendly, kind, considerate young man. He's also broken, crippled by a car accident that was his fault. Shane wasn't supposed to survive, but thanks to his family and friends and his will to live, he made it through the grief, disappointment, and pain. Shane's whole life changed in a flash; his hopes and dreams shattered in a few seconds, but he keeps on going without complaint. When Shane meets Jimmy, he sees a kindred spirit, someone whom life has dealt a bad hand. The major difference being that Jimmy has never had the love and support that Shane is practically smothered in. Shane sees through Jimmy's attitude to the person who, more than anything in the world, needs to belong; Jimmy needs a place to call home. Shane loves Jimmy as well, but with honesty and openness, even though he knows there's a great probability that Jimmy won't be staying. Shane is determined to make the best of it and show Jimmy what it feels like to be part of a group of people who love and support each other. Shane isn't totally unrealistic in his hopes though. He knows that the odds that the wanderlust Jimmy has always had may override his desire to stay.
'Rattlesnake' is a well written, powerful love story, in which Kim doesn't pull any punches. She gives us an exceptional look into the minds of Jimmy and Shane who may be down; but not out. Kim weaves their lives together in an intricate, seemingly unbreakable pattern. I wasn't sure how it was going to work out considering Jimmy's years of self-doubt and rejection, but amazingly, it did, making them both better men in the process. My heart ached as Kim described Jimmy's life in excruciatingly painful detail, in his thoughts and through the stories he told. It was obvious, even with his lack of self-confidence, Jimmy accomplished a great deal of good. Since Jimmy is the narrator, Shane's point of view is not shown; but the feelings behind his actions are blatantly clear. He is doing all he can to show Jimmy how good life can be. All Jimmy had to do was reach out and embrace it. If you like to read about cowboys, horses, farms, supportive families, overcoming adversities, bravery, redemption, forgiveness, and a happy ending, you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Kim, for making me think, feel, and appreciate what I have in life.