An amiable if slight continuation of the author's debut novel (Eddie's Bastard, 1999) brings hero Billy Mann to Santa Fe in search of the mother who abandoned him.
At 20, Billy decides to leave his hometown of Mannville: the grandfather who raised him has died, the general store is closing down and leaving him jobless, while the gnawing desire to track down his mother has not faded with time. When only a few weeks old, Billy was placed on the doorstep of his father's ancestral home with the note "Eddie's bastard" attached. Eddie however, never returned from Vietnam, and all Billy has of his mother is the name Eliza McMeel, a.k.a. Sky, and a 20-year-old address. So off he goes to Santa Fe, leaving Mildred, Grandpa's prim girlfriend, in charge of the homestead. In short order, he finds his mother's house, now abandoned, and discovers from his new crazy neighbor, El Perrero (Billy rents the house across the street), that Sky's daughter Sophia works at a bar downtown. Also working there is Consuelo, a singer with 11 guardian angels and a history of tightrope-walking. Consuelo moves in with Billy, the two of them befriend Ralph, a classics scholar at the college Billy is supposed to be attending, and Billy makes a connection with Sophia, not letting on they're related. He does find Sky, dying from a long battle with cancer. Mildred, meanwhile, has turned the Mannville mansion into a refuge for pregnant girls and asks Billy to come home to help her—an invitation that comes not a moment too soon. Consuelo has moved to Los Angeles, and El Perrero, in a Vietnam flashback, has snapped and begun honing his sniper skills on Ralph.
Likable characters, though the quick plotting, in this coming-of-ager part two, could have been sacrificed for a little more depth and self-reflection.