Audio Review: Andrew Grey – Planting His Dream

51atF3-bA-L._SY346_Author: Andrew Grey
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Narrator: Derrick McClain

Summary: Foster dreams of getting away, but after his father’s death, he has to take over the family dairy farm. It soon becomes clear his father hasn’t been doing the best job of running it, so not only does Foster need to take over the day-to-day operations, he also needs to find new ways of bringing in revenue.

Javi has no time to dream. He and his family are migrant workers, and daily survival is a struggle, so they travel to anywhere they can get work. When they arrive in their old van, Foster arranges for Javi to help him on the farm.

To Javi’s surprise, Foster listens to his ideas and actually puts them into action. Over days that turn into weeks, they grow to like and then care for each other, but they come from two very different worlds, and they both have responsibilities to their families that neither can walk away from. Is it possible for them to discover a dream they can share? Perhaps they can plant their own and nurture it together to see it grow, if their different backgrounds don’t separate them forever.

Review: When Foster discovers the debt his recently deceased father leaves behind, he takes the advice of a neighboring farmer who’s doing quite well and looks for areas to diversify and to make use of every available acre and every available crop. Together with his mother and grandmother, he works from sunup to sundown to keep the farm operational. He can’t afford additional help, but he does honor a contract that his father made with a migrant family to harvest his asparagus crop.

When they show up a week early, he feels sorry for them and hires their oldest son, Javi, to help with his daily chores. Javi suggests they sell some of their produce at the end of their lane and that they take advantage of selling at the local farmer’s market—both ideas that pay off. Foster and Javi become friends and then more as they grow to respect and, eventually, come to care deeply for one another. But Javi’s father is not reliable due to his drinking and authoritarian ways so Javi feels he needs to stay with them to make sure his mother and brother and sister have enough money to survive, and he breaks Foster’s heart when he leaves with his family.

Andrew Grey uses this novel to alert readers to the very real plight of migrant families. In the way he has of weaving a social issue with a romantic pairing, this was a sweet story at the same time it illustrated the lack of available health care, education, and often food resources for families who travel from farm to farm and state to state. I normally enjoy this type of story from him, but whether it was due to having it narrated or the characters themselves, I just couldn’t warm up to this one. Both Foster and Javi seemed very innocent and naïve, and though I have no doubt Foster, who spent most of his time on the farm since childhood, would be naïve, I found it hard to believe that twenty-year-old Javi would be.

I didn’t care for the narration on this story either. The narrator didn’t distinguish clearly between the voices he gave Foster and Javi, though I did enjoy Grandma’s voice. The major issue I had with Javi’s voice was the lack of an accent. Living in a van with a family who only spoke Spanish 99% of the time, how did he not have at least a minimal Spanish accent in the narrative? I’m happy that the author didn’t write his dialogue the way some writers do for someone with ESL, but still, it didn’t feel realistic to listen to him speak as if he was born and raised on the same farm as Foster.

I’d give the narration a 2 and the story a 3.5, so I’m knocking down the overall rating a notch to 3 to make up for the narration. Those who enjoy Andrew Grey will enjoy this one, but I recommend the e-book over the audiobook version.

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