Callie's shattered dream of reconciliation between her parents makes it difficult for her to adjust to Fran, her new stepmother, even though she loved Fran before the marriage. Meanwhile, Callie, her father (""Tex""), and Fran move to a trailer park--where Callie no longer has her own room, but where she and a younger neighbor secretly befriend a wild dog and her three new pups. Sensible Fran, whose own family is overheard by Callie deploring her marriage, is both creative and patient with her difficult new charge. Though few of the characters here are represented with much depth, Hill is unusually good (and often benevolently satirical) when conveying the surfaces--dialogue, the squabbles of the close-knit community as they try to cooperate on their Christmas decorations, the nuances of communication (as Callie reads a rare letter from her mother, ""she could imagine her mother speaking the written words with a lilt of humor, barely disguising the complant and self-pity underneath""). The conclusion--with Fran and Callie rescuing the surviving pup and guiding themselves home by the successfully mounted Christmas symbols--not only neatly ties the story's threads but is satisfyingly heartwarming. An entertaining novel for the holiday season.