Reading level: Young Adult / Ages 9 and up
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First Edition edition (September 18, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0374350957
ISBN-13: 978-0374350956



The Plot:

Twelve-year-old Foster knows in his gut that Dax Ganey, the man dating his widowed mother, is a bad seed. Then a mysterious stranger arrives at their Alabama farm, a former Army Ranger in Iraq rambling across the country, and Foster believes he has found an ally against Dax. The stranger proves a fascinating mentor, full of wisdom and secrets. And Dax soon has reason to resent not just him and Foster but also Foster’s mother. A spurned Dax will be a dangerous enemy, but Foster is increasingly aware that the stranger is just as dangerous, if not more so.

From the author of one of the most highly acclaimed children’s survival adventures of the last decade comes this tautly wound new novel reminiscent of classic westerns, about a boy caught in the middle of a clash that may turn out to be his own battle to fight.


“Suspenseful and introspective.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Key has crafted another powerful, riveting coming-of-age tale. . . . Foster’s first-person voice is richly authentic as he gradually acquires the wisdom that will eventually lead him to a believable though heart-wrenching resolution to some of the crushing conflicts in his life. Confrontations between Dax and Gary are vivid and violent enough to disturb some readers, the violence expertly serving to define yet distinguish their characters. Deeply moving and fast-paced, this life-affirming effort is a worthy addition to the bookshelves of sturdy readers.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Simultaneously poignant and suspenseful, the story will keep readers on the edge of their seats.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“An original and satisfying coming-of-age tale.” —The Horn Book

“Written in the tradition of classics such as Old Yeller and Shiloh but with a decidedly contemporary setting and tone, this will appeal to a broad range of readers.” —BCCB


  • State and Regional Awards
  • Maine Student Book Award Master List 2014
  • Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List 2014
  • Indiana Young Hoosier Award Master List 2014
  • MO MASL Readers Awards – MASTER LIST 2014
  • South Carolina Children’s Book Award Master List 2014
  • Professional Journal Best Book Awards
  • Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year 2012
  • Bank Street Awards
  • Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year 2013

Teacher Resources:

Questions and Answers about Fourmile with Watt Key