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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Sixteen-year-old poker champ Hallie Palmer has a few problems. She's bored to tears with school and emotionally disengaged from her large, chaotic family. To make matters worse, she was recently thrown out of the local casino when she was caught -- as a minor -- betting on the ponies. This particular action has cut off her primary source of income, on which she was counting to buy a car and to drive away from her stiflingly small-town life once and for all. Her options now reduced to the more typical jobs available to the teenage workforce, Hallie answers an ad for a "yard person," a job whose wages will allow her to follow her dream in just two short months.
Hallie's new employers, the Stockton family, have a reputation for eccentricity in Hallie's conventional hometown. This suspect group consists of an elderly woman of strong social convictions who speaks her mind and defies laws she believes unjust; her dying husband, a well-bred former judge; their gay son and his lover; and an alcoholic chimpanzee.
Hallie knows what it is to feel like an outsider, but she has yet to learn the importance of being oneself in the face of the social stigma directed toward those who stubbornly refuse to act "normal." Offered new living quarters with the Stocktons, she's able to better observe this unusual family whose members truly follow their hearts. Hallie's first taste of freedom from convention helps her refine her own life goals and, to her surprise, to begin to understand her own "normal" family. (Winter 2002 Selection)