Set in the Tennessee mountains during the Civil War, a coming-of-age novel distinguished by its strong sense of place, vivid characterization, and lively action. After her parents' death in a fire that destroys their successful Nashville store, Rachel goes to live with her grandparents, feisty, wise, humorous folk who soon make her feel at home. Friends her own age are harder to find; city manners and outspoken intelligence put off the unsophisticated mountaineers. But Rachel is indomitable. Befriending the local herb woman, she finds a vocation as healer; nursing Ben, a wounded Yankee, she falls in love and is rewarded by his decision to join her after the war in the mountains she has come to love and with the people to whom she feels a responsibility, even though, in a hair-raising final episode, she narrowly escapes rape by one of her less enlightened neighbors. An author's note explains that there are still people in the Appalachians who believe the sound of galloping hooves is ""Miss Rachel's"" ghostly horse, carrying her to tend the sick; Kassem's deft pen has made her real enough to sustain the story.