Don’t Let The Wind Catch You by Aaron Paul Lazar is a coming-of-age story about 12-year-old Gus LeGarde and his best friends, Elsbeth and Siegfried, and how they come to befriend Mr. Tully, a hermit with a dark secret, and his best friend, the spirit of an Indian girl bound by a dark secret of her own.
Lazar has done an excellent job of capturing 1965 with an eye to detail. The music that Gus listens to on his transistor radio, his affection for The Beatles and desire to grow his hair longer, all add a very authentic air to the story. Gus is not too perfect: he often disobeys his family and keeps secrets from them even when it’s not for a really good reason.
But he is a good boy who loves his family, food, his horse and hanging out with his friends. He knows how lucky he is to have a loving and safe family, especially compared to his friends, the twins, whose mother survived the concentration camps at great cost to her mental stability and whose father is often over-stressed and over-strict.
Despite this, the children have a happy life for the most part, with horses to ride, woods and a mysterious old house to explore, their own playful ghost to enjoy, and their new friend Mr. Tully. There’s also the extra excitement of first love as Gus and Elsbeth begin to discover new and completely innocent feelings for each other.
Even though Gus gets to be a real hero in the book and shows real growth and maturity as the mystery of both the Indian spirit and Mr. Tully’s connection to his own family are revealed, he never takes himself that seriously or really believes he’s any more than a boy who wants to do the right thing.
The nature of some of the material in this book might be controversial for some parents although others will appreciate the delicate and sweet nature in which it is handled. However, parents may want to scan the book in advance to assure themselves that their young reader is ready for it.
That said this reviewer found the story heartwarming as well as entertaining and would happily share it with young relatives.