Billie Standish Was Here

( 3 )



Billie Standish has pretty much no one. Her parents are too caught up in their own lives, and the only two girls in town her age want nothing to do with her. When it looks like a nearby levee might break, and Billie's elderly neighbor, Miss Lydia, is the only other person besides her family to stick around, a friendship is born out of circumstance. What happens during that time, in that empty town, is a tragedy that Billie can't bear ...

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Billie Standish Was Here

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Billie Standish has pretty much no one. Her parents are too caught up in their own lives, and the only two girls in town her age want nothing to do with her. When it looks like a nearby levee might break, and Billie's elderly neighbor, Miss Lydia, is the only other person besides her family to stick around, a friendship is born out of circumstance. What happens during that time, in that empty town, is a tragedy that Billie can't bear alone. Can the love of one woman nearing the end of her life save the life of a young woman just at the beginning of living hers?

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Wendy M. Smith-D'Arezzo
Billie knows that her parents wanted a boy. She rightly perceives that they are not very interested in her or what she does. As a result, she lives her life in such solitude that she does not realize when most of the families move away because a local levee is threatening to break and flood the town. When her elderly neighbor Miss Lydia befriends Billie, the girl's life is suddenly full of conversation, joy, and, for the first time, meaning. That is, until Billie is brutally raped. As an isolated eleven-year-old, Billie does not realize most of the ramifications of the rape, and she is embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. Miss Lydia guesses what has happened, and she is able to nurse and nurture Billie through this horrible experience. Separated by more than sixty years, but drawn together through their mutal love and the recognition of kindred spirits, Billie and Miss Lydia form an atypical family. This coming of age story goes beyond living through the drama of a rape, and Crocker has developed two unique characters that grow past the pages into our hearts.
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up
Eleven-year-old Billie is neglected and emotionally abused. Her parents, who were disappointed that she was not a boy, work all day in the fields, leaving her to keep house, cook, and attend school. When a flood threatens their 1968 Missouri community, most residents flee, leaving Billie's family, an elderly neighbor, and the woman's adult son. Billie and Miss Lydia become friends, but the girl is leery of Curtis. Her fear is well grounded, as he lures her to the deserted school and rapes her. Billie tells no one, but Miss Lydia figures it out. The woman, who was sexually abused by her father, protects Billie by staging a shooting in which she mistakes Curtis for a burglar and kills him. When the flood passes and school resumes, Billie becomes friends with a boy who becomes part of the afternoons at Miss Lydia's. Harlan and Billie grow closer as time passes. Miss Lydia ultimately suffers a stroke, and the two teens take care of her until her death. This story is beautiful, painful, and complex, and the descriptions of people, events, and emotions are graphic and tangible. The rape scene is described but not sensationalized. The pain it causes both Billie and Miss Lydia is made real for readers. The language is a bit crude at the beginning, but as Billie's rough edges are smoothed, her language becomes more polished. The ending is somewhat over-the-top, but doesn't detract from the story.
—Nancy P. ReederCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
A lonely girl in rural Missouri develops a friendship with her elderly neighbor that transforms her life. Adrift and isolated, 11-year-old Billie Marie has no friends and feels invisible to her self-absorbed parents until she meets her neighbor, Miss Lydia. Miss Lydia may look like "every grandma in the world," but she's more interesting than anyone Billie has ever met. Soon the two are inseparable. But Billie's childhood ends when Miss Lydia's son, Curtis, brutally rapes her. In the days and years that follow, Miss Lydia and Billie share a terrible secret as they continue to love and protect one another. Mentor and surrogate mother, Miss Lydia provides Billie with the love and support she needs while Billie gives meaning to Miss Lydia's life. When Miss Lydia ages and eventually fails, Billie knows exactly what she must do. Set in the late 1960s and early '70s, this tender, touching account of intergenerational friendship provides rich historical context for two memorable female characters who redefine the meaning of family and love. (Fiction. 14-18)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416924234
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/5/2007
  • Pages: 288
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Crocker is a native of Missouri who started her career as a singer and appeared with Loretta Lynn at age thirteen. She graduated from Columbia College and since then has been acting and writing. Her work has appeared in the American Heritage Anthology, and she is the author of the picture book Betty Lou Blue, published by Dial. This is her first novel. Nancy lives with her husband and son near a lake in Minneapolis, where they enjoy fishing. You can visit Nancy at

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Customer Reviews

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( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Dena Landon for

    This novel set in Missouri in the 1960's transports the reader to another time and place, where the problems faced by Billie Standish are just as real as those faced by teens today. <BR/><BR/>Billie's parents wanted a boy, hence the first name of William, and spend the majority of their time ignoring her. When the river starts to rise and threatens to flood, Billie's family is one of the few to stay. She forms an unlikely friendship with an elderly woman, Miss Lydia, who begins to show her that there is more to life than her parent's disappointment and that she is capable of far more than she thought. <BR/><BR/>When a horrible tragedy befalls Billie, Miss Lydia is the only one who can help. <BR/><BR/>Crocker tells the gentle story of Billie Standish with grace and sensitivity, contrasting the innocence of a time when space travel was astonishing with the dark actions humans are always capable of. The novel follows Billie's life as she grows from the age of eleven to graduating from high school, and as her friendship with Miss Lydia and the secret they share shapes and transforms her life. <BR/><BR/>**Disclaimer: This novel contains sensitive subject matter that is geared towards older, mature teens.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 3, 2009

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    Posted February 12, 2015

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