Thirteen-year-old Buck Anderson knows the dangers of exploring underground caves alone, but when he discovers a new hole in the ground, it proves too tempting to resist.
Buck hates keeping secrets from his family, but he knows they would never understand his obsession with caving. And unfortunately, the only person who would is his friend David, who has recently moved away. When his uncle asks him to look in on a curmudgeonly neighbor, Buck reluctantly agrees, thinking he can use the extra money for the caving equipment he needs. However, the new connection proves to be more than a paycheck. The retired doctor tells Buck he might be able to cure the boy of his stuttering, something Buck can barely imagine. Unfortunately his stutter is only part of the problem. When he sticks up for himself against the school bully, the retribution is swift and potentially deadly. Buck’s hidden talents may be his only chance at survival. Naylor’s signature ability to coax profound truths out of ordinary characters and familiar events shines, and she avoids supplying easy answers. Change is hard. Familial relationships are complicated. And healing takes time.
Buck’s strength is inspirational, and his family’s love and respect are heartwarming. (Fiction. 8-12)