Richardson's debut is an episodic coming-of-age story, set in South Carolina in the early 1960s. Sissy is 10 when the book opens, 12 for some middle chapters, and 14 as the story comes to a close. Over the years, she struggles with sibling rivalry, a manipulative cousin with a talent for landing Sissy in trouble, social graces, boys, and her own stubborn pride. Each chapter stands as an independent vignette, without much narrative thread linking them. Many are humorous, but at least two attempt more serious themes, notably racism and the complex relationship between black domestic workers and the white children they are raising. Richardson has captured the flavor of the setting and the local vernacular, but she has trouble with the girl's first-person narration--an older, more reflective voice often intrudes. Minor characters are developed unevenly, if at all, especially two younger sisters; and improbable plot devices further weaken the story. The exception is the final episode, concerning Sissy and her relationship with Elease, the family maid; she's a strong and interesting character, but the book ends just as Richardson seems to be approaching the real heart of the story.