It’s 1960. In a small logging town called Calamus that’s about as far in the middle of nowhere as you can get, Wade Curren, star of the high school baseball and football teams, is content living out his role of local hero, holding court in the corner booth of the town diner where his girlfriend Lorna waits tables.
Lorna, working to support her family, is plotting her escape from their small town. Fiercely independent and an avid reader of the kinds of books that aren’t taught in school, Lorna wants a bigger life. She tries to show Wade that Calamus is a trap, that as an individual he should fear the town’s rigid “boxes” and expectations. But Wade’s box is too comfortable and she can’t make him understand.
When Jesse Howl arrives from the Klamath Warm Springs Reservation, his presence shakes up the town. Jesse doesn’t seem to know how an Indian “should” act. Yet even as he and Wade compete for the top spots on the baseball and football teams, they become friends. As they raft the river, fish, and listen to Wade’s grandfather’s stories, Wade, Jesse, and Lorna forge a lasting bond and discover exactly how much it could cost them to be themselves.
Here you will find a comprehensive teaching unit designed to make adopting Ricochet River into your classroom easy. All lessons are Common Core State Standards (CCSS) aligned with fully developed assessments. Material includes: discussion questions, essay prompts, vocabulary lists and quizzes, practice ACT tests, links to third-party supplemental materials including articles and videos.
“A touching exploration of friendship . . . The author has a naturalist’s feel for the Pacific Northwest, evident in his majestic descriptions.”
“I love Robin’s work and life.”
—David James Duncan, author of The River Why and The Brothers K
“The world of Ricochet River is the world I grew up in. I know it well. . . . If only I had met [Lorna] when I was growing up, she might have helped me figure it all out.”
—Molly Gloss, author of The Jump-Off Creek and The Hearts of Horses
“There are so many literary devices in Ricochet River students can appreciate. But what’s really good is they can relate what’s happening in the book to what’s happening now in their lives.”
—Alan Howard, past president, Oregon Council of Teachers of English
“I like the differences between Ricochet River and A Separate Peace or A Catcher in the Rye. Those other two books are about upper-class white boys in private schools cut off from the land. Because of that they are less important to my students these days. Wade, Lorna, and Jesse share with us their small town, working class lives. The magic of Ricochet River is the story. That it’s a book English teachers appreciate reflects Robin Cody’s craftsmanship; that students love the book is a gift of the storyteller.”
—Tom Abbey, teacher, Calistoga (California) High School
“A teenage classic of growing up in the tradition of Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace, but better for the inclusion of a wonderful young woman and an American Indian.”
—Peter Sears, author of Gonna Bake Me a Rainbow Poem
“The storyline of Cody’s book swirls momentarily in an eddy of salmon lore, slows in a deep pool of recollection, and stirs the sands of Oregon history.”
—Clackamas County News
“Mr. Cody sets the crucial scenes out of doors, and much of the book’s rich imagery springs from this very particular terrain. In captivating prose, Mr. Cody tells a story of unusual wisdom and grace.”
—New York Times
“Jesse Howl, the spiritual center of Robin Cody’s first novel, is lusty, sweetly naïve and generally full of beans, much like the trickster Coyote of Indian mythology.” – The Los Angeles Times
“The complicated beauty of this tale, shuttling between Indian legend and modern ‘macho’ expectations, is a stunning achievement.” — William Wharton, author of Birdy and A Midnight Clear
“If we go to novels for a sense of vision, we will find in Ricochet River the topography of injustice, a map soberly true and vitally relevant, telling us where we stand.” — Oregon Historical Quarterly
“Ricochet River has been recommended for course work by a number of high school and college teachers, some comparing it to J.D. Salinger’s masterpiece, The Catcher in the Rye.” — The Oregonian
“Cody has captured the essence of logging community life.” –Seattle Times
“Finally . . . . a book about Estacada.” –The Clackamas County News