A complex father-daughter duo head back to their small hometown of Klosterberg, Texas, to get closure in this drama that considers the complexities of race in small-town America.
Robert “Rabbit” Haase lived a heartbreaking life. He lost his mother to a man that left her with a broken heart and a drug addiction, and he lost his pregnant fiancée to a man that hated him for loving a black woman. Rabbit had not recovered from watching his love get shot to death in a parking lot, and he certainly had not forgotten that the man responsible, Fenton Rivers, walked free because of an insanity plea. So when an old friend, who’s also the sheriff, called to coax him into returning to Klosterberg as chief deputy to examine the murder of an officer allegedly killed by Fenton, Rabbit faced a dilemma: Should he leave Austin for a small town choked by drugs and racism for a chance at revenge, especially considering that he had his adopted daughter to think about? Lucky for Rabbit, Peetie hated Austin, so that made his decision easier. Unlucky for both of them, she also learned to hate Klosterberg. Being a black girl with a white dad in Texas was reason enough to be bullied in Austin, but when your dad is the chief deputy, it’s worse. Billig creates a three-dimensional character in Peetie, and once the reader gets to know her, the author ups the ante. As Rabbit tries to find more than circumstantial evidence to indict Fenton, Peetie looks for ways to get her classmate, Baylee Ruthers, off her back. Peetie’s situation escalates, and when the principal threatens to have her separated from her “Rabbit-daddy,” she makes an epically poor decision that results in a dead girl and two missing kids. Just when you think things can’t get any worse for this surly preteen and her exhausted father, a bank is robbed and two people are kidnapped. At times, the plot loses its momentum in clunky point-of-view shifts. As the tension escalates, however, this competent examination of race in small-town Texas morphs into a page turner as Rabbit struggles to connect the clues in time to save his daughter. The fully developed, likable father-daughter team further enhances the storytelling.
An affecting, sometimes awkward novel presses the reader to root for its quirky, tragedy-stricken duo.