Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Branch (Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard) immerses readers in the history and deep-rooted traditions of the Wright family--who have lived in southern Utah since their Mormon ancestors arrived 150 years ago. At the heart of the narrative are contemporary patriarch and matriarch Bill and Evelyn Wright of Smith Mesa, parents of 13 children and legions of grandchildren. Love abounds as the family grows, but chronic struggles plague a way of life disappearing from the landscape of the American West.
The Wrights, herding cattle ranchers, manage and oversee hundreds of cattle over thousands of acres. Branch depicts, through riveting scenes infused with colorful detail, the many challenges posed by the politics of land management and grazing rights, urbanization and tourism, the influx of corporate cattle ranching, fluctuating beef prices and droughts. Added to the mix are adventurous stories of the modern rodeo circuit, where the Wright boys are among the world's best saddle bronc riders. The dramatic thrill of victory and the agony of defeat and injury force this hardworking, faith-filled family continually and creatively to adapt and reinvent themselves--all in an effort to maintain their way of life in the hope it can be sustained for future generations.
Branch's chronicle of a tight-knit, loyal family is meticulously researched and vividly presented. The lengths the family goes to in support of each other is thoroughly engrossing and offers a great appreciation into the plight of modern American cowboys. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines