Yount (Hardcastle, 1980; Toots in Solitude, 1984) tells an old-fashioned story--an estranged family comes back together in North Carolina in 1948--with sweet, familiar home truths engagingly imparted. Madeline Tally claims she married construction-worker Edward just because he was the only man her father couldn't scare off. But after years of repeatingly uprooting herself and her son to follow Edward around the country, Madeline returns, with 13-year-old James, to her parents' North Carolina farm. While she dreams of claiming an individual identity and begins an affair with her divorce lawyer, Edward has a fling with a Pittsburgh bimbo, discovers how much his family means to him, and determines to win Madeline back. Meanwhile, James struggles to expiate his own sense of guilt and to become a man--"a condition you had to get to by yourself, even if, after you made it, it was common ground." His search for identity is played out through his friendship with Lester (poor but honorable, though dismissed by James's cousins as "trash"), his repeated victimization by the school bully, and his idealization of Indian chief Osceola--all of which lead him to a self-imposed Indian ordeal in the freezing woods, a potential tragedy that can destroy the family or strengthen the strained bonds. Some contemporary touches--occasionally explicit sex; Madeline's adultery that goes unpunished--but the triumph of family values over self-gratification will especially please those nostalgic for a more innocent era.