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THE GARDEN OF EDEN MOTEL by Morse Hamilton

THE GARDEN OF EDEN MOTEL

By Morse Hamilton

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-16814-0
Publisher: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Setting the story in the early 1950s, Hamilton has penned a slow-moving but ultimately touching character study about a boy learning to love his new stepfather. Dal Wilkins is 11 and really can’t remember his father, a soldier killed in WWII. His mother has married a jovial, kind man whom Dal calls “Mr. Sabatini.” Dal accompanies Mr. Sabatini on a trip to Idaho; expecting to find the Wild West, Dal instead spends his summer in a tiny, sleepy town. He works in bean fields, goes to barbecues, works up an attraction to Patty Puckett, goes swimming, and spends some strained days with the Dunns, a family of farmers whom Patty ridicules. Patty’s ne’er-do-well father, Len, claims to own a uranium mine, however, and Mr. Sabatini decides to invest. When Mr. Sabatini is bitten by a rattlesnake on a trip to the mine, Dal must summon the same courage his own father and Mr. Sabatini drew upon during the war. He drives to town through the nearly roadless desert, saves his stepfather’s life, and finds that he has a family stronger in love than that found in the Dunn or Puckett brood. This beautifully crafted book, long on plot, feeling, and suspense, features protagonists that are drawn with realism and depth. (Fiction. 12-14)