Kings of Colorado
Thirteen-year-old William Sheppard stabs his abusive father and is sent to the Swope Ranch Boys Reformatory, setting off a string of events that ultimately leads to a horrifying end in the Colorado mountains. Along the way, he befriends three boys who become his surrogate family. Their work together taming horses brings peace, as the boys struggle to survive a world of hurt and shocking cruelty wherein the only thing they can rely on is each other as the laws of normal society are stripped away.
With a backbone of heart-wrenching suspense, Kings of Colorado is a beautiful portrayal of brotherhood set against the nobility, danger, and wildness of youth and horses. The bonds between man and beast, along with other themes of community, friendship, and atonement are boldly explored on every page. Kings of Colorado illustrates just how easily innocence can be stripped away, robbing us of something most precious: childhood.
Reading Group Guide
To defend his abused mother, thirteen-year-old William Sheppard stabs his drunken father in the ribs. He’s sentenced to two years at the Swope Ranch Boys’ Reformatory in rural Colorado. Despite being located in the beautiful mystique of the Colorado wilderness, William soon realizes how dangerous and brutal the Reformatory is. Each day he must navigate a world packed full of troubled boys and guarded over by wicked and cruel men. The only true outlet the boys are allowed is their relationship with the horses they are charged with “breaking in.” Young Will quickly finds that he must overcome tragedy and death if he is to withstand the ranch, but only at the cost of losing his innocence.
TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” Do you agree/disagree with that remark? How do you think that relates to the novel?
2. Discuss the role of the mustang horse see more