Thirteen-year-old Matt Echbar is angry at the world. His widowed father is too busy for him, and his grandfather is an embarrassment, an unschooled Basque shepherd whose language and customs are completely alien to Matt's all-American lifestyle. Things get worse when the grandfather steals a flock of sheep and dragoons Matt into helping him drive them to a secret camp in the Arizona mountains. The ensuing adventure is one of the most compelling and delightful coming-of-age novels in recent fiction. As Matt and his aitatxi, accompanied by their two faithful sheepdogs, drive the flock across the burgeoning suburbs of Phoenix and into the remote mountains, the boy learns the ancient skills of the sheepherder and discovers the unexpected wisdom that has given his Old Country grandfather the strength and patience of a sturdy oak. By the time the journey reaches its fateful conclusion, Matt has developed a new bond with the old man and has learned that true manhood includes accepting one's heritage.
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