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Billy the Kid: A Novel

Review

Billy the Kid: A Novel

He was dead by the time he was 19 --- though some say he might have been 21. Legend has it that he killed a man for every year of his life and that he was one of the best shots the old west ever saw. But this is the stuff of legend. The real truth surrounding the short life of William H. Bonney Jr. (Billy The Kid) is pretty much speculation. So Theodore Taylor has taken a blend of fact and fiction to create this version of the "Kid's" life.

Covering the last few weeks in the young desperado's life from an unfortunate train robbery to his grisly death in a gunfight, we are given both the Kid's point of view and that of his cousin and friend, sheriff Willis Monroe. Willis has known Billy since they were both youngsters, and when he hears that there's been a train robbery, he can hardly believe that the boy could be involved. With the hopes of bringing him safely back and clearing his name, Willis sets off to find him. His wife Kate also wants to believe in Billy's innocence but at the same time is frightened for her husband's safety.

Billy, for the time being, had taken the "easy" way out. Trying to make some quick money, he has fallen into the company of three notorious thieves. What seems like a good opportunity turns out to be poor judgment, and before everything is over, Billy kills one of the thieves (in self-defense), takes all the money and runs. But even when he meets up with Willis and agrees to go back for a trial, the cards seem stacked against him. He escapes from the jail and he and Willis end up in a desperate, bloody gunfight against the original thieves.

Was he a desperado, an outlaw, a murderer, a robber, or just a kid in the wrong place at the right time? 1881 was a hard, ruthless and mostly lawless time in the old west. In Taylor's carefully crafted interpretation, he creates a likable Billy in a fast-moving, good old-fashioned western. The "Author's Note" at the end explains how he came about writing this fiction and a little of what is known of the real Billy. Taylor, author of THE CAY, has written a book that will perk the interest of anyone who would like a taste of the old west and its legendary characters.

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Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on October 18, 2011

Billy the Kid: A Novel
by Theodore Taylor

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2005
  • Genres: Historical Fiction, Western
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • ISBN-10: 0152049304
  • ISBN-13: 9780152049300