Jessie, 15 and living on a rural North Carolina tobacco farm in the early 1920s, dreams of graduating from high school and then attending teachers’ college.
All of that becomes very unlikely after one of her elder sisters falls ill with tuberculosis, forcing Jessie to leave school to nurse her dying sibling and later to become surrogate mother to her sister’s infant son. Jessie loves her nephew, but she’s torn between staying on the farm and cultivating her growing relationship with J.T., a neighbor three years her senior who would happily marry her when she gets a little older, or satisfying a deep-seated urge to make more of her life, if she gets the opportunity. Told in a believable first-person, present-tense voice that emphasizes the immediacy of Jessie’s problems and her sometimes raw emotions, Hitchcock’s debut also neatly captures a full flavor of the setting and period. The aspects of many characters are also effectively revealed, mostly through authentic-sounding dialogue.
A satisfying tale for readers who don’t require a fully happy ending. (Historical fiction. 11-18)