The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings

(Cross-posted from my blog)

The winner of the 1939 Pulitzer Prize, The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings is a quaint story of a boy, Jody, his life on a Florida farm during the late 1800's, and ultimately, the adoption of his fawn, Flag. Descriptive and enchanting, Rawlings paints a realistic picture of early Florida life and the love humans feel for their pets.

Jody lives on a small farm in the present-day Ocala National Forest with his father and mother. Times are tough. Crops don't grow, bears and wolves prey on their livestock, relationships with neighbors are strained, and the weather is relentlessly hot and rainy. Jody's farm struggles every day to exist in these meager conditions. Jody also combats loneliness with no siblings or friends with whom to pass the time. He yearns for a pet to call his own, and he finally gets his way when he befriends an orphaned fawn. However, as Flag becomes a yearling, the deer exacerbates the family's struggle by eating their crops. Jody is ordered to shoot his pet - and he is torn between doing the right thing for his family and killing the thing he loves the most.

This story is rich with history. You really capture a sense of what it was like to live in Florida during this time period. Many think of Florida as a tourist haven, which it is in parts, but most of Florida is rich with vegetation and animals. Even today, I live among Florida's wildlife, from snakes in my pool to alligators on the golf course. While these animals are really just "pests" in my life, they could make or break a family like Jody's. I gained a new appreciation for what life was like for the pioneers who tried to carve a life in Florida's unforgiving land.

My only complaint about The Yearling is that it is very descriptive - perhaps to a fault. You must really like to read about nature to enjoy this story. If you do, I would highly recommend Marjorie Rawlings's inspirational and historical tale.


    I read this book as a young adult, and I loved made me so sad, and I totally empathised with Jody. Now, as a woman in my early 40s, I should go back and re-read it, and see how different my perspective is. I'm guessing I would identify with Jody, but even more with his parents.