This isn't a book filled with words about living with an adult with the mind of a child and what heroics the brothers and sister have performed for their brother. Or of how Skip is something more then what he is - an almost 60-year old man living with that mind.
There is no romance in the images Mr. Newsom has shot of their lives in the Tenton Valley. The sky is huge and full of beauty, and part of that beauty comes from the wildness that is also a threat. Black storm clouds shot with colour as the sun breaks through in one last feeble attempt to stave off whatever danger is building. This is world of stark realities where there is no place for illusions.
If Skip were at risk because of his health, or put anyone else at risk, you know it would be a different story. But he has managed to make a place in this world for himself. The author makes the comment while observing a thistle — a plant considered such a threat and a pest in the valley that orders exist to exterminate it on sight — that like the thistle his family are strangers here, but some of them have found a home.
The dogs respond to Skip when he calls them to heel, Skip knows when it's time to return to his sister's yellow house for supper time, and Skip isn't behind the walls that at 23 he never wanted to return to. The picture on the front cover makes sense now when you go back and look at it again, but for reasons different then what I had first assumed.
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever had the privilege to hold in my hands. It breaks your heart with its honesty while making you laugh at the bittersweet nature of life. The author in his acknowledgment states that these images prove that his brothers and sister were and remain his heroes.
Without any cheap sentimentality or "heart-warming" bullshit, he has indeed created a beautiful homage to three remarkable people and an equally beautiful landscape. In this day and age of fake emotion and false idols, this book should be required reading for every person in North America.