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Cliff Kelly is about to retire from his teaching position when the last day of school is destroyed by an act of terror. He learns that a student in a nearby school, brought a gun to school, after killing his mother leaving an unknown number of students hurt. Cliff has not only to deal with his student's grief, but it brings up one day that was the turning point in his life. As Cliff reflects about his youth, his past unfolds revealing a history similar to the young man above.
Cliff was harassed throughout grade school not only by the students, but for a long time by his teacher until Mrs. Campbell took over. In her he found a mentor and some level of protection until he decided one day to stand up for himself. Unfortunately, Hector, a student, taught him a lesson that ended up with Cliff beaten. Cliff ran off and in his anger decided he would get even, but something kept him from acting on his anger driving him to run away into the Mesa Verde hills that he loves so much. Thus begins Cliff's journey to find himself as he struggles to heal him through the beauty and wildness of nature.
Mr. Fenter's story The Ruin is a beautiful and inspiring saga that taught me not only the beauty of nature, but how it can help to heal a broken soul. It was incredible how Cliff made a home in an Anasazi ruin in spite of the odds. It was moving watching Cliff struggle to survive fighting his own fears and in the end triumphing, finding peace. I loved experiencing the Mesa Verde through Cliff's eyes as its beauty unfolds. It was hard to watch the agony Cliff's family went through, but it was wonderful how the community came together to help them. Hector's life was also changed by Cliff's absence as he struggled with his actions and learned how what he did affected others. I look forward to reading The Bee Tree the sequel to The Ruin. Mr. Fenter's ability to incorporate the past and nature into a contemporary story is riveting and inspirational.
Reviewed by: Teresa