This book is not terribly difficult reading, but the content really isn't appropriate for young children. It is quite violent and, at times, sadistic. While the overall themes are friendship, loyalty, and redemption (all positive), the book contains a planned racially motivated lynching, murder by gunshot to the head, sexual harassment, torture by rattlesnake venom, child abuse, child abandonment, and one reference to being drunk on whiskey. All of these items, in one book, make it pretty dark and potentially scary for kids younger than middle school. Age appropriate readers will likely enjoy the book for its more positive messages and humor, although the ending is a bit hokey.