In this final, lackluster episode in the life of 1930s-Indianan Seely Robinson, Thrasher seems merely to be going through the motions, without purpose or conviction. Dad has died, so Mom moves the family into the city of Bedford, to work in a restaurant and give Seely and Robert, now 16 and 10, unspecified ""advantages."" As the series-theme goes: ""I've finally made it out of the hills and hollows to where I can see the daylight."" Old friend Fanny's reply that she hopes Mom ""won't regret it"" then gets us ready to expect that she will. But there's little here except bigger schools to distinguish Bedford from Jubilee, city from country--and only the problem of paying for some things that previously were free (firewood, refuse collection) to cause any regrets. . . until, late on, the theft of Mom's pay from her coat at the restaurant (a crisis handily surmounted). The father-deserted Hollises, Duston and Deidre, present themselves as ready-made friends. The single most-discussed pursuit is trapping--which Dustin learned from his crotchety countryman-grandfather, and teaches Robert (who finds he hasn't the stomach for it). Seely gets raw, cracked hands from doing housework-for-pay; she's ridiculed at school for her hands and the smelly mutton tallow she uses to heal them (until the understanding teacher uses it for a science project, and she shines). Seely also has some passing romantic thoughts about Dustin (who leaves after his grandfather's death) and about restaurant-busboy Arlo, who falls in instant, mutual love with Deidre. That leaves what has to happen, all the time Mom refuses to take more free firewood from Nelly's brother Gus, who's building a snazzy new house: she marries him--while Seely will go off to live with older, working sister Julie, as she's always wished. The first books had a kind of rough, gritty authenticity; this is an empty shell--and a probable let-down even (or especially) for Seely's faithful following.