I purchased my copy of A Hundred Days from Home, by Randall Wright at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers symposium held at BYU several years back. I appreciated Mr. Wright’s willingness to spend a few moments talking to a total stranger in the line of strangers waiting to buy his book.
We talked about Arizona—the setting for A Hundred Days from Home, and my native state. At the same time, he encouraged me to continue along the path toward becoming a published author. Nice man. Tender story.
Twelve-year-old Elam lives in the high country of Springerville, AZ with his parents and memories of a once-innocent childhood. Papa thinks Elam needs a change and moves the family to the town of Copperton. Elam hates it. He doesn’t understand why Papa would take him away from the places and memories that he loves.
Papa and Mama keep encouraging Elam to make new friends. There are plenty of young boys Elam’s age living in the small community they’ve moved to, but Elam is a little shy. When he does make a friend, it’s with a young boy that Papa doesn’t approve of—his parents don’t work at the copper smelter.
Refugio is being raised by his grandpa on the other side of town. The wrong side of town. On this side of town, the homes are mostly shacks painted bright colors, and the people work in the fields. But Elam and Refugio have their love for animals and living things in common, where the other boys in town are not so charitable in their treatment of living creatures.
This story follows Elam along his path to acceptance and understanding—acceptance of his new desert home—acceptance of his new life—acceptance of his best friend, Brett’s drowning—and understanding that it wasn’t his fault. Unfortunately, as is too often the case, it takes another tragedy in Elam’s life before he finally understands.
A Hundred Days from Home takes on the tough subjects of prejudice and death, which are difficult for young children, but Randall Wright does so with a gentle understanding, and a calming voice that I don’t think would be too overwhelming for most pre-teens.