It is 1949, and the traditional way of life in the swampland of Atlantic-coast Florida is threatened.
Ten-year-old Bones and her family live a life governed by awareness of the land and the measured pace of the seasons. They are not cut off from modern life, but it’s encroaching rapidly. When a land speculator and a neighbor are murdered, offstage, Bones’ father becomes a prime suspect because of his encounters with them. The plot weaves around the investigation but focuses mainly upon Bones, who is at once innocent and wise, trusting and skeptical, fearful and accepting. Her voice is strong and lyrical, mixing regional syntax and dialect with lovely descriptions of the beauty she sees as she hunts, fishes, observes and explores in this mystical place. She cares for every creature that comes her way and learns lessons of neighborliness and generosity from the example set by her parents. Finely drawn supporting characters add richness and warmth. But there are also the harsh realities: one family’s vicious cruelties, hurtful laws and prejudices that prevent natural friendships, the death of a beloved neighbor and the ever-present dangers of nature itself. A satisfying conclusion leads to a happy celebration for everyone.
A spirited tale and fascinating setting, but it is Bones who shines. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)