This is a story about my father, and about God,"" begins Michael, sounding like the minister's son that he is; it is also about a family that takes in a small Negro child, and loves him, and is buffeted by pressures, and gives him back. Especially it's about what happens afterward: to fourteen-year-old Mary Nell who alone among the children resented Edgar Allan and threatened to leave unless he did, but never believed her parents would capitulate; to Father who made the decision despite his belief in a ""whole man"" who could not live parts of his life differently; and to Michael, a knowing fourteen and a stern judge, who cannot forgive his father, and doesn't. What is left for all of them is the possibility of starting over (ironically, Father loses his church anyhow by losing the respect of his congregation), and this is not only the one acceptable outcome (Michael himself rules out others as artificial or inappropriate); it is also an affirmation that the family has resources to draw on. Quite apart from Mary Nell's coming around, there's ample evidence in the characters of parents and children and the moments of quick sympathy or quick laughter among them. As for Michael, he has guts, and he doesn't mince or multiply words. Perhaps the ultimate accolade in these topical times is that this isn't: Edgar Allan is a darling but he could have been any sort of bombshell (or any child betrayed).