Stevenson's lengthy but accessible and satisfying first novel has more than enough subplots to reinforce her time-honored theme--that of a displaced child discovering that her new home is where she really belongs (cf. Understood Betsy, 1917). When ten-year-old Becca's Dad dies, she's shipped off from Santa Barbara to her mother, Rachel--with whom she's had no contact since she was two--in Vermont. Grieving for the father who was virtually her only friend, Becca is slow to recognize that it was he who selfishly proscribed communication from Rachel. Like Dad, Rachel is dauntingly intelligent; unlike him, she seems cold and reserved. But a new puppy helps Becca feel at home, as do the fine horses in the barn and a neighbor girl who has survived losing both her parents. A gifted foster child, whose fantasies about his ne'er-do-well dad almost end in tragedy, provides another challenging friend, plus a mystery and an additional contrast. In time, Becca understands that--unlike Dad--Rachel shows her love by allowing Becca the freedom to define herself. Stevenson's plotting is exciting, almost melodramatic; her details are well chosen, though she does tend to pile them on even after a point has been made; her characters' rather complex behavior and relationships ring absolutely true. A bit long and redundant, but still a well-structured, well-told story.