Did they have to be movers all their lives?"" It's 1918 Kansas, and the Fabers are tenant farmers, which makes 13-year-old Willow's situation slightly unusual; but so much is said about the self-evident miseries of constantly moving and the inarguable advantages of ""roots"" that the immediate identification with her predicament is muted--and, at the same time, it never takes on a distinctive cast. We see the Fabers shunned, melodramatically, as immigrants and vagrants; see Willow persuade Papa to have a try at buying The Ranch; see her turn into an unfeeling tyrant in her determination to make the younger children measure up. She's so blindly, insensitively determined, in fact, that she loses whatever sympathy we have left for her--while never emerging as an interesting, or even individuated, character in herself. Externally, it's overdrawn; internally, it's undernourished.