It has a very well-realized background and a convincingly vulnerable hero. The setting is rural South Carolina during the Depression, and it's clearly based on experience. The atmosphere of the small farming town is complete including the wide range of interdependent personalities who live there and the dialect has the proper cadence. The boy is thirteen year old Toby Butler and he has to experience, along with the usual problems of growing up, the adjustment to his father's death and to the fact that his still young mother is interested in remarrying. ""I've been feelin' sort of cut off from my family"" he says at the end, and his sense of isolation is strongly felt along with his close attachment to each member of the family. The special qualities of the time and place are there, so are the small details which are both funny and familiar. The main drawback to the book is that it should have been pared down--the nostalgic qualities are dulled by excess, and events tend to lose their poignancy in their attenuation.