This book may or may not actually be classified as a young adult, but I read it as a young adult, so that's what it is to me. This book was our novel study when I was in grade 5, and I loved it so much I saved up my paltry $2/week allowance and bought my own copy. That summer, I proceeded to read it every single day for two weeks. As in, I read the whole book cover to cover every day for two weeks. I may have been a little obsessed. As that was the time in my life when all I wanted was a dog, Where The Red Fern Grows became my fantasy world.
The story is about a country boy and his two dogs. Like me, he really, really wanted a dog, but unlike me, he wound up getting two. These dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, are coon hunters, and damn good ones. The book follows their adventures together as they tramp across the Ozark mountains. After re-reading the book as an adult, I can now see that their adventures are perhaps not quite realistic, but to a young reader everything seems magical.
This book does not have a happy ending. The dogs die. Both of them. But like any good YA novel, not only is the story a rip-roaring adventure, it's also got some life lessons sprinkled in. This is a great book to read solo, no matter your age, but it's also the kind of book parents could read to/read with their kids. Just be prepared to cry a little.