In a simply but lyrically told tale, a Choctaw boy builds himself a hole in the ground to hide from his alcoholic father.
Bobby’s mother has left, for reasons that go unsaid but are nonetheless clear. When Bobby’s father picks a fight with him one morning and threatens—again—to give him “the whippin’ you deserve,” Bobby falls by accident into a hole in the backyard. Feeling safer there than in the house, he gets an old door from a junkyard and lays it over the hole, covering it with leaves. As the standoff with his dad continues, Bobby finds support from his Cherokee basketball-player friend Johnny, his neighbor Carolina Faye, and his dad’s friend Mr. Robison, who tells him a Choctaw story about a boy called No Name and his fraught relationship with his father. Bobby’s mixed emotions toward his own flawed father, and his father’s toward him, are conveyed in straightforward yet revealing lines of dialogue and first-person narration (“He might be the biggest bully in town, but he was still my dad”). Supporting characters are similarly well-drawn, with the unfortunate exception of two female characters—one in the frame story and one in the No Name tale—who don’t have much personality beyond their interests in their respective male protagonists.
Expressive and many-layered. (Fiction. 12-16)