Two sisters and a brother face hard choices about their future--in a first novel set in Kansas in 1904. As Abby, 12, tells the story in her diary, her mother's death and her father's continued absence while searching for employment in California force her and her sister Damaris, 16, and brother Joel, 14, to live with an aunt and uncle. Life is not easy: the aunt lacks their mother's bright dreams for their future, and her family has their own economic problems. Joel and Abby find jobs to help out; Damaris had quit school earlier to work at a local emporium, where she has caught the eye of the upright but tightfisted owner. When Damaris accepts his offer of marriage as a way to a better future for Joel and Abby, neither can accept her sacrifice; quietly, they struggle to prevent the marriage. Characterization and setting are the best features of this discursive novel, which gives a vivid impression of the class struggles and daily lives of a small midwestern town of the period. But, unfortunately, the plot is not adequate to carry so much detail. A good first effort in need of cutting and better pacing; Leonard is not a strong storyteller, but she is a promising writer.