A young girl in the early 1900's must reconcile her feelings for her brother and sister with her desire to discover the truth about her past. Babe Garber isn't the oldest child in the family, but it's always fallen to her to take care of her sister Florence and brother Rivius. Their life is hard: Mama has been sick all summer; Pa drinks too much and has shady business dealings. When Mama dies, a busy-body tells Babe that Mr. Garber had never married her mother--and that Florence and Rivius are only half-brother and half-sister. While Babe is still reeling from the shock, a drunken Mr. Garber then forces the children to leave town with him. After an accident, the children land in the protection of warm, motherly Mrs. Shaw. Babe longs to stay with the Shaws, but she also wants to follow the clues that lead to her own grandparents and to a resolution of conflicts. Characterization in this somewhat grim novel is good; the terse, laconic style suits the period; and details of daily life and colloquial dialogue add to the authenticity. There may be too many coincidences in the plot, but the happy ending is satisfying.