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Hard to Have Heroes

Buddy Mays

A Panelist Pick for Southwest Books of the Year, Best Reading of 2012

Winner of the 2012 Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association

Winner of the 2012 Bronze Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award in General Adult Fiction

When fourteen-year-old wannabe cowboy Noah Odell and his widowed mother leave rainy Gold Hill, Oregon, to join Noah’s flamboyant uncle Bud on a ranch in New Mexico, they find themselves in the middle of nowhere with daily temperatures in excess of 100 degrees; enough rattlesnakes, buzzards, and hungry coyotes to start a zoo; a dozen scrawny steers; and a smelly outdoor toilet overrun with black widow spiders.

When Bud presents Noah with a cantankerous mule named Brimstone, the adventures begin. Accompanied by his new best friends—an unlikely cowboy philosopher named Marvin Couch and a precocious tomboy prodigy named LaDonna Hawthorne—Noah and his mule encounter some of the Chihuahuan Desert’s strangest characters. Green space monsters, eccentric Apache college professors, jackalopes, royal Spanish ghosts, and an inept gang of local bullies assure that the days are never dull, especially when the U.S. Army lawyers and MPs try to confiscate Bud’s ranch to expand a top-secret rocket-testing facility at nearby White Sands Proving Ground.


An award-winning photographer and writer, Buddy Mays is the author of eight previous books. A native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, he now lives in Bend, Oregon.


"This agreeable contemporary western brings us a good handful of personable characters involved in rousing adventures. . . .A reading pleasure."



"Many American classics such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Catcher in the Rye, and Ender’s Game, exhibit a boy approaching manhood. Hard to Have Heroes by Buddy Mays might just be a modern classic, a bildungsroman with spunk, wit, and a lot of heart."


Southwestern American Literature

5.5 x 8.5 in. 248 pages