Hyde’s newest (Diary of a Witness, 2009, etc.), about two sisters looking for a home after their mother's death, straddles the fence between adult and YA fiction.
After their mother dies in a car crash with her latest live-in boyfriend in New Mexico, 16-year-old Carly is afraid she and her 11-year-old sister, Jen, will end up separated in foster care. The only person approaching family in their lives is previous “step-father” Teddy, who lived with them back in California until her mother accused him of attempting to abuse Jen; Carly is so sure her mother made up her claim as an excuse to leave him for Wade that she refused to talk to her right up until her death. Carly has no address for Teddy, but she sets out with less enthusiastic Jen to find him. After 10 days of walking, they make it to Arizona, where Delores, a 91-year-old elder of the (fictional) Wakapi tribe, catches them trying to steal eggs from her henhouse. Delores makes them work for her for 10 days in supposed retribution while she feeds and houses them. Jen quickly bonds with Delores, whose rough veneer covers a tender heart not unlike Carly’s. Jealous that everyone likes Jen better and hurt that Jen has adapted to life on the farm more easily, Carly redoubles her efforts to find Teddy. When Jen refuses to leave with her this time, Carly sets out on her own, hitching rides and riding the train—in a harrowing display of physical endurance—until she arrives at the seaside town where Teddy has landed with a new girlfriend. Carly, who inhabits a politically correct world in which white rednecks are all evil and all Native Americans are noble upholders of moral goodness, is a familiar literary convention: the spunky innocent who talks tough to hide her vulnerability.
Hyde knows how to punch all the emotional hot buttons but neither plot nor characters are believable or original.