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on Aug. 11, 2012 :
In 1963, a ten—year-old girl named Missy Canfield, the narrator of this interesting tale, is confronted by one of the worst calamities imaginable. Her beloved father, Daniel, has been killed in an automobile crash. She is living in a small community somewhere in the central part of the United States. It doesn’t matter exactly where. It is universal small town America and the family is solidly rooted in all that implies, including a very marginal income. The children wear hand-me-downs, Missy’s surviving parent is a woman of questionable moral virtues, yet she works hard, clearly loves her children and struggles to meet her obligations to her family.
Wise beyond her years, readers will quickly become enamored of this child and her siblings. Her observations of the parade of “uncles” who take up temporary residence in the family, her “take” on ordinary family gatherings, by turns trenchant and naïve, propel the story forward in a way that almost requires we continue to read. A sense of foreboding permeates the atmosphere almost from the very first page and that foreboding grows.
Yes, there is murder, yes there is domestic violence, and menace toward the children and yet through adroit maneuvering there is a sense that the family will persevere. This novel is amazingly middle American in almost every sense. For all its occasional shifty flaws, the narrator is so endearing most readers will come away saying, she got it right. That’s really the way it was in those times. That’s who we were. There is not much more a writer can ask.
(reviewed long after purchase)