(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Tex is a coming-of-age story that deals with a young person’s attempts to adjust to the changes in his life and his relationships. It is not until he understands his own history and his place in his family that he is able to sort things out. Narrated by the good-natured Tex, the novel has a generally optimistic tone, but there are some disturbing qualities about it. Tex is young and, in many ways, innocent—almost to the point of being an unreliable narrator. For example, although he and his brother live in near poverty without any adult supervision, Tex does not seem to be disturbed or saddened by the situation. He also takes risks, such as pulling pranks at school or trying to jump Johnny’s motorcycle over a creek, without realizing the potential consequences of his behavior. Tex’s growth in the novel comes when he realizes that his behavior also has consequences for other people.

Tex must learn that as people grow and change, they also move on. In an early chapter, Tex goes to the fair with Johnny and Jamie and a gypsy tells their fortunes. She tells Tex that “there are people who go, people who stay. You will stay.” The question of who is going and who is staying returns to Tex over the course of the novel: Johnny is staying, and Lem Peters is someone who should have stayed. Jamie and Mason, however, are going.

The novel also depicts a young person’s struggle with complex relationships. Tex’s friendship with Johnny...

(The entire section is 561 words.)