Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-06-13
- Reviewer: Staff
Featuring a heroine as pragmatic and resourceful as Mary Call from Where the Lilies Bloom, adult author Bayard's (Roosevelt's Beast) poignant Depression-era novel traces the struggles of 14-year-old Melia Hoyle and her siblings after their mother's death. Now orphaned, Melia has to care for siblings Janey and Earle, keep the family gas station running, and find a legal guardian so they won't be put into foster care. Unexpected help comes from a down-and-out hobo, Hiram Watts, who agrees to pose as their estranged father. While he spends his days holed up in a tiny bedroom, Melia pumps gas and fixes engines. The deception works for a while, but a competing businessman, Harley Blevins, is bent on bringing down Melia and the gas station. Set in rural Virginia and told through Melia's no-nonsense narration, this period novel evokes the stoicism of mountain people and the ways neighbors help each other during hard times. Although a loner by nature, Melia's uncompromising integrity wins the trust and affection of community members while earning her a steady stream of customers, too. Ages 12–up. Agent: Dan Conaway, Writers House. (July)