A novel about unlikely heroes, informed by longtime educator Dufner’s (Chasing Horizons: Gaby’s Story, 2013, etc.) real-life acquaintance with three young abused girls.
Fifty-year-old Virgil Castor Trevor leads a quiet existence, tending his goats and providing frequent care to Jimmy and Caryn, the children of his longtime friend Billie. He’s slightly embittered by his reduced circumstances and his estrangement from his own grown children after his divorce. He makes friends with Bianca, an 11-year-old neighbor, and quickly recognizes that she’s the victim of neglect and abuse. However, he tries not to get deeply involved, only providing her with a safe haven and plentiful food. But when a severely beaten Bianca comes to him one night, he knows he must do the right thing. He takes her to his friend, Dr. Pick, and calls the authorities. He soon becomes acquainted with the shortcomings of the legal and child welfare systems when he’s arrested and charged with abusing Bianca; meanwhile, she’s sent to a foster home, which results in different dangers to her safety. As Trevor attempts to save her, he takes on the law and, later, a Mexican gang. In a work that could easily have become overly sentimental, Dufner manages to include just the right amount of emotionality. Bianca and Trevor’s early, affectionate relationship eclipses all others, as none of the other interactions in the book achieve the same amount of emotional impact and depth. Charming pencil sketches by Esquivel, one of the young women who inspired the author, also enhance the text. However, most of the story’s conflict occurs early on, before Trevor even meets the Mexican gang, and a late plot turn is hardly a surprise after considerable, unsubtle foreshadowing.
An often engaging story that shows that love and determination can overcome the cycle of abuse and the flaws of the social care system.