Feeling invisible and inferior to her brainy younger sister Peep, Margie Tempest discovers what she's made of when she bravely takes her father's car and, with her sister a protesting passenger, sets off to find their mother who has suddenly left.
Unwilling to take advice from the know-it-all 9-year-old who has skipped into her sixth-grade class, Margie first drives miles in the wrong direction, turns around, runs out of gas and manages to refuel successfully before they arrive at the International Poultry Hall of Fame, where they find no mother, but a woman who can comfort and reassure them until their father comes. Brown's first novel has some of the same dramatic effect as her story of the real-life pilot who flew under all four of the bridges spanning New York's East River (Soar, Elinor! 2010, illustrated by François Roca). The first-person narration reveals Margie's desperation, her determination to drive both fast and safely and her fear that her sister will give them away. This story of family hurt and healing is set in small-town Kentucky in a time when a stay-at-home Mama might put on lipstick and cologne to greet her husband home from work. The sibling rivalry, amplified by the family focus on success, and the parents’ unvoiced tensions are realistic.
An adventure with a heart. (Fiction. 9-12)