A Depression-era novel is defined by the hard-edged beauty of its rural Southern setting.
When 14-year-old Halley’s father dies, in 1936, her mother capitulates to the demands of her own father, a strict Southern Baptist preacher, that the family move back home. Pa and Ma Franklin live in a farmhouse much like the one Halley leaves, only without the soft comforts—chief among them her brother Robbie’s piano—Daddy had provided. Halley’s a tough pragmatist, but she resents giving up her dream of attending high school to care for her aging grandmother. She even more strongly chafes at the fact that her mother must become a mill hand and turn her weekly pay packet over to Pa Franklin. Halley’s growing sense of self and her mother’s journey from grief to independence evolve slowly, changing like the seasons on the farm; the plot moves unhurriedly but with determination to the satisfying end. That Gibbons knows this hardscrabble world to the bone shows in every precise detail of chamber pot, buttermilk and cow-safe fencing.
A richly rewarding look at an era.(Historical fiction. 10-14)