In many ways, Tex is the most successful fulfillment of the Hinton formula. The novel avoids the pitfalls of the earlier romantic versions of the Hinton story, and it succeeds where Hinton is best: in characterization and in relevant themes. The standard Hinton elements are here, but they coalesce as they never have before.
Tex and Mason McCormick have almost been abandoned by their father, who is following the rodeo circuit, and Mason has developed an ulcer taking care of Tex, being a star athlete, and working to get into college. He is even forced to sell Tex’s horse, Negrito, when the two boys run out of money. The action is fast-paced: Tex and his friend Johnny are constantly getting into trouble, Tex and Johnny’s sister Jamie develop a romance, and Mason’s friend Lem is dealing drugs. In one of the multiple climaxes, Tex saves Mason’s life when a hitchhiker pulls a gun on them. When Tex accompanies Lem on a drug deal, however, he himself is shot by one of the customers and ends up in the hospital. In the novel’s denouement, Tex discovers who his real father is, and the various strands of this novel are neatly resolved.
Tex works because readers are carried along by the story and because the major characters are believable and sympathetic. The ideas in the novel work as well. Again there is the theme of “outsiders”—orphans, abandoned children, and loners. The resolution is much more satisfactory than it was in Rumble Fish (where readers last saw Motorcycle Boy dead and Rusty-James sitting alone on the California beach): Tex gains a new father (at least his name) and a new sense of family, works out his problems with his brother, and begins a romance. The conclusion is not without worries: “Love ought to be a real simple thing,” Tex complains in the end. “Animals don’t complicate it, but with humans it gets so mixed up it’s hard to know what you feel, much less how to say it.”
Tex has a more mature ending than Hinton’s previous novels and an affirmative ending for its youthful readers. Tex does not end up dead, in jail, or alone. In spite of the strikes against him (both from his environment and from within himself), he manages to survive and succeed.
Tex McCormick loves his horse, Negrito. He returns home from school and is surprised that his older brother Mason is also home. Mason is a senior, the star of the basketball team, and is hoping to get into a good college, possibly with a basketball scholarship. Tex knows that, if Mason skipped practice, either he is sick or something is wrong. When Tex confronts him, Mason admits to selling Negrito and his own horse, Red. Their father, Pop, is out on the rodeo circuit and has not written or sent money home in four months. Mason had no other choice. They needed money to pay their bills.
Tex is outraged when Mason breaks the news. The brothers argue, and the fight turns physical. Mason is angry that their financial situation has gotten this bad, and he takes his anger out on Tex. When the fists stop flying, Mason tries to apologize. Tex insists that he is going to get the horses back, that their father never would have allowed this to happen. Mason is amazed that Tex does not see that he was forced to take drastic measures precisely because Pop is not home.
Tex vows to find the horses and get them back. He leaves the house to search for them. He meets up with his best friend, Johnny Collins, and Johnny’s younger sister, Jamie. He tells them what Mason did. They try to talk him out of looking for the horses, but Tex will not listen. Mason comes looking for Tex and drags him back home.
That weekend, the fair begins. Bob, Johnny’s older brother, drives Tex and Johnny to the city and drops them off at the fair. The boys meet Jamie and her friend. The girls talk the boys into having their fortunes told. The fortuneteller reads Tex’s palm, telling him that he will be one of the “people who stay” and that he will not get Negrito back. Tex is not sure what she means by “people who stay.”
Tex and Johnny continue to get into trouble, both in and out of school. Cole Collins, Johnny’s father, deems Tex to be a bad influence. Mason takes offense at Cole’s judgment because Johnny is just as much of a troublemaker as Tex is. One of Mason’s old friends, Lem Peters, stops by to announce the birth of his son. Lem wants to share his good news with the Collins kids, so Tex sneaks him into the Collins house. The boys are happy to hear Lem’s news. Jamie is the realist of the group and doubts raising a baby will be easy. When she makes a wisecrack about Lem’s parenting skills, it does not go over well. Tex comes to her defense. Tex struggles to...
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