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A PLACE TO CLAIM AS HOME by Patricia Willis


by Patricia Willis

Pub Date: April 22nd, 1991
ISBN: 0-395-55395-4
Publisher: Clarion Books

A powerful first novel about a summer shared by a boy and a lonely woman who together discover the strength of friendship. Henry, 13, an orphan who suspects that his adoptive family no longer wants him, is sent in 1943 to work on Sarah Morrison's farm. Henry tries hard to make himself useful, but still Sarah seems distant and cold. Evan, a neighbor boy, tells him that she is ashamed of having had—and perhaps of having killed—an illegitimate baby. When Henry discovers that in fact she gave her baby boy away, the circumstances make him wonder if he is the child. Their growing closeness, and her harsh reaction when Henry's efforts to save Evan (who has fallen into an abandoned mineshaft) result in the two boys being missed overnight, strengthen his surmise—which he discovers haunts Sarah as well. Henry is a likable, believable protagonist among equally likable, well-rounded characters. With an evocative setting, a tense climax, and a satisfyingly believable conclusion, this is a strong debut. (Fiction. 9-12)