This soil," concludes the young narrator of this quiet chronicle of garrotted innocence, "is bad for all kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear." And among the exclusions of white rural Ohio, echoed by black respectability, is ugly, black, loveless, twelve-year-old Pecora. But in a world where blue-eyed gifts are clucked over and admired, and the Pecoras are simply not seen, there is always the possibility of the dream and wish--for blue eyes. Born of a mother who adjusted her life to the clarity and serenity of white households and "acquired virtues that were easy to maintain" and a father, Cholly, stunted by early rejections and humiliations, Pecora just might have been loved--for in raping his daughter Cholly did at least touch her. But "Love is never better than the lover," and with the death of her baby, the child herself, accepting absolutely the gift of blue eyes from a faith healer (whose perverse interest in little girls does not preclude understanding), inches over into madness. A skillful understated tribute to the fall of a sparrow for whose small tragedy there was no watching eye.