Much of the rough-tender appeal, and warm concern, of Little Mule, Apple on a Pear Tree, etc. is readily felt in this new novel of a youngster- with a hard fact to face. Twelve years old and ""close to man size"" is Billy, living alone with his Pap in Four Mile, Missouri- just as the Civil War is beginning and the men are leaving- to fight. But Pap, while he hears the bugle, has no choice- for his wife, who has lost her mind- since the accident three years ago- comes home to stay, with her sister Mira. By day Billy worries over Pap- sometimes he gets liquored up in town- sometimes he's said to be chasing other women- and at night, he is hounded by a recurrent dream he cannot explain. It is only after his mother is killed- and he blames Pap for her death- (which perhaps his inaction could have prevented-) that his dream becomes a clearer revelation of his own guilt in the earlier accident.... An easily susceptible story of a man and a boy- and the backwoods country is very real and unmistakable. Nice.