This is sort of a literary counterpart to the Waltons, set in cotton-growing country during the Depression, heavy on poverty and homey wisdom. Fifteen-year-old Chris Sword is torn between the charms of his over-solicitous English teacher, Miss Bryant -- the proverbial spinster -- and his somewhat chaster girlfriend Vance, until religion, in the form of the annual revival meeting, comes to rescue him from sin for a while. Meanwhile chores -- milking and hog-killing and planting and the paper route -- are done cheerfully and without complaint as his father tries to earn enough to buy his own homestead, courtesy of FDR's farm mortgage program. Older brother John gets his car, Chris' mother gets her Aladdin lamp (this is pre-electricity days), Chris gets his radio, and the farm is coming along -- until their hard-luck father is killed in an accident, Showing the inscrutability of God's will. If it proves anything else -- it might be the loyalty of Mr. Deal's readers or their patience -- only up to a point.