Another southern yarn, as sweet as candied yams, from Trobaugh (Sophie and the Rising Sun, 2001, etc.), this time about a girl trying to keep her orphaned family together.
Fourteen-year-old Dove, the oldest of three children, learned about disappointment early on when her father abandoned the family and ran off to California with a floozy. Dove’s mother bounced back, and, as soon as her divorce came through, married a devoted local trucker named Roy-Ellis. She and Roy-Ellis added a child of their own to the two they began with, and life was happy—until Dove’s mother died after a long illness. Even then things held together: Dove’s godfearing Aunt Bett lent a hand, and Roy-Ellis was as good a father to Dove and Molly as he was to his own Little Ellis. Some eyebrows were raised when Roy-Ellis, after a decent interval, married 17-year-old Crystal (a dancer from the local honky-tonk), but Crystal, despite being barely older than Dove, turned out to be a decent soul. Everything was thrown into total confusion, however, when Roy-Ellis died in a truck accident. Crystal had to fight to convince Aunt Bett that she could (and should) raise the children—and she’d no sooner won that battle than Dove’s father appeared out of the blue to claim custody of Dove and Molly. With nowhere else to turn, Crystal takes the children and runs away to Swan Place, an antebellum mansion owned by a Frenchwoman who rarely stays there anymore. Swan Place is looked after by Buzzard, a friend of Dove’s black neighbor “Aunt” Mee, and Buzzard welcomes the refugees with open arms, introducing them to her prayer group and helping them thwart the traps set by Dove’s father. In the process, Dove learns a lot about blacks, God, the world—and herself.
Proof that the Midwest isn’t the only source of corn: a readable and amiable tale that just becomes too sweet after a while.