Deliver Us from Evie

Deliver Us from Evie

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by M. E. Kerr

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Award-winning author M. E. Kerr challenges stereotypes in this story about a fifteen-year-old grappling with his older sister’s sexuality

Parr Burrman lives with his parents and his older brother and sister on a farm in Missouri. They’re a typical Midwestern family—except for one thing.

Parr’s father thinks…  See more details below


Award-winning author M. E. Kerr challenges stereotypes in this story about a fifteen-year-old grappling with his older sister’s sexuality

Parr Burrman lives with his parents and his older brother and sister on a farm in Missouri. They’re a typical Midwestern family—except for one thing.

Parr’s father thinks Evie’s going to marry Cord Whittle, who’s had a crush on her forever, and settle down in their hometown to help out with the farm. Instead, she falls in love with Patsy Duff, the gorgeous, privileged daughter of the banker who holds the mortgage on the Burrmans’ property. When rumors start flying about Evie and Patsy, Parr has to contend with the derision of his classmates . . . and when he falls for a girl from a fundamentalist family who fears homosexuality like God’s wrath, he must face his own conflicted emotions. Soon, Parr’s parents—and the whole town—will know the truth about Evie. But it’s Parr who has to deal with the burden of shame when his own behavior leads to a shattering betrayal . . . and a secret he’ll carry to the grave.

Written with grace, humor, and love, and featuring sympathetic characters you won’t soon forget, Deliver Us from Evie is a compassionate, vividly evocative novel by a master storyteller.
This ebook features an illustrated personal history of M. E. Kerr including rare images from the author’s collection.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
So original, fresh and fiery, you'd think that M. E. Karr, one of the grand masters of young-adult fiction, was just now getting started.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Parr, the youngest of three farm siblings, tells this story. He's dying to escape rural life, but his brother has gone off to college and has become a frat brat. Suddenly his sister Evie, who most loves the farm, begins a relationship with the rich and beautiful Patsy Duff. The author courageously takes on stereotyping, parental fears and protections, rural small-mindedness, and religious smallness. She does this with a plot that moves so fast that all of these things are part of the story rather than issues bundled together. Always a fictional forerunner, Kerr has created characters, a family, and a town that show the complexities of coming out in a small town.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Kerr has taken on topics as diverse as AIDS, teenage dwarves, religious fanaticism and the Holocaust. She's explicated them all for her teenage readers with tremendous insight and wit. Evie, with its difficult subject of lesbianism, is no exception. Seen through the eyes of her younger brother Parr, tough, bright, masculine Evie emerges as a contender for our affections. She's a natural farmer, she can fix anything, and when she falls in love with a beautiful preppie the reader is worked through the same agonies as her caring family. How does someone different fit in? Is there room in the world for these differences? Evie becomes not a pro-homosexual lifestyle treatise, but rather a touching story about the ways and strengths of love.
The ALAN Review - Kay Parks Bushman
Evie Burrman shakes up her family as well as the entire town of Duffton, Missouri, simply by showing her true self for the first time. When she reveals that she is having an affair with Patsy Duff, the daughter of the banker who holds the loan for the Burrman farm, Mr. Duff puts pressure on Evie's parents to do something about their daughter. Even Evie's brother Parr is affected when his girlfriend questions him about his sister's relationship. Despite her family's desire to change Evie, they learn that they cannot - forcing her, with no other choice, to move away. Kerr creates a realistic conflict, which frequently surrounds the situation of homosexuality. With realistic characters and a rural setting, she paints a credible plot that should interest mature teens.
Hazel Rochman
In Kerr's personal foreward to Sutton's "Hearing Us Out" (see review on p.124), she talks about her parents' rejection of her lesbianism, and she discusses the special prejudice (even within the homosexual community) directed at those who "looked it," that is, looked butch. These themes are movingly dramatized in this landmark novel about 18-year-old Evie Burrman and her Missouri farm family Her mother is always nagging Evie to act and dress more feminine. When Evie falls in love with Patty, the beautiful, preppy daughter of the local banker, Evie's parents tell her that "it's just a phase" and that she'll snap out of it. But she has always known she's a dyke. When Patty's wealthy father uses his power to try to separate the lovers, they leave town, but they stay together Unlike Nancy Garden's "Annie on My Mind" (1982), the focus here isn't on the lesbian lovers. The story is told by Evie's 15-year-old brother, Parr, the latest of Kerr's tender, smart male teenage narrators. Through his eyes, Evie is a bit too perfect to be true (she's clever, funny, sensitive, poetic, independent, and superbly competent with farm animals and machinery); in contrast, the powerful banker is a fat, waddling, controlling villain. But the other characters, including Parr's religious fundamentalist girlfriend, are more subtly drawn. Even Parr discovers unexpected malice in himself, and his betrayal of his sister will always be a shameful secret. The place is vividly evoked: the daily farm chores, the small-town narrowness and generosity, the roots that give you strength even as you long to escape. In the end the flood that sweeps the area is both a realistic disaster and a transforming power that helps soften the family divisions. It shows what Evie has always said about herself: nature is an irresistible force We've come a long way from the stories of homosexual love that end in disaster. No car crashes here. No sin. No victims. Evie has to leave home, and she misses the farm; but then she and Patty get an apartment in New York City, and they fly to Paris and Rome. Patty drives a fancy car, and it doesn't crash If Kerr's message is more overt than usual, it's a complicated message, and she has a lot of fun with it. Teens will be swept up in the emotion and immediacy of Parr's fast-paced narrative, his voice perfectly pitched between wit and melancholy. It's a story that challenges stereotypes, not only about love, but also about farmers and families and religion and responsibility--about all our definitions of "normal."

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Deliver Us from Evie

By M. E. Kerr


Copyright © 1994 M. E. Kerr
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-5540-5


PIG WEEK BEGINS THE first Monday after Labor Day at County High.

The freshmen and the transfers from Duffton School are "the pigs."

The seniors are out to get you. They call "SOU-weeeee! Pig, pig, pig!" at you, and they put you in a trash can, tie the lid with rope, and kick you around in it. You learn how to curl into a ball and cover your head with your arms. That happened to me first thing in the morning. I was a transfer junior from Duffton.

Then, in the afternoon, a few got me by my locker. They read my name on the door, PARR BURRMAN, and one of them said, "Hey, we know your brother. What's his name again?"

"Doug Burrman," I said.

They said, "Not that brother! Your other brother."

"I only have one brother," I said.

They said, "What about Evie?"

Then they began to laugh. They began to say things like "You remember him, don't you? Doesn't he live with you? Sure he does! The Burrman brothers: Doug, Parr, and Evie!"

I didn't mention it when I got home.

"How'd things go, Parr?" my mother said.

"Okay. I'm glad Doug warned me about how to curl up in that trash can."

"Did they make you roll in the mud?"

"They didn't have any mud today—but they said we'd better not wear our good clothes tomorrow."

"Ah, well, I guess they'll have the pigpen ready tomorrow." My mother had a tuna fish sandwich ready for me before I changed and went out to do my chores. She said, "They never gave a warning to Doug or Evie. You should have seen their clothes!"

Mother was the reason I was named Parr.

She'd been Cynthia Parr when she met Dad at the University of Missouri. He'd been in the Agricultural College there.

Now my brother Doug was following in his footsteps. Of the three of us—me, almost sixteen; Evie, eighteen; and Doug, twenty—I was the only one who didn't want to be a farmer.

I could hear the combine working its way through the field out behind the house. I knew Evie was driving the thing. It'd grab the entire plant of corn, strip off its ears, take the kernels, pump them into a storage tank, and dump the rest of the plant back into the field behind it.

Sometimes I'd look at my mother and wonder how she'd ever brought someone like Evie into the world.

The only thing they had in common was a love of reading. Evie wrote some, too, like Mom used to when she was her age. But they weren't alike in any other way. They didn't even look alike. Evie had Dad's height—she was almost six foot—and she had Dad's brown hair instead of being blond like Mom.

You'd say Evie was handsome. You'd say Mom was pretty.

Then there was the difference in the way both of them dressed.

My mother wasn't like most farm women, who wear jeans and sweatshirts. She had a few pairs of slacks, but mostly she wore skirts or dresses, and the only time I ever saw her in men's clothes was sometimes when we were harvesting. She'd bring some sandwiches out to us and she might have on an old shirt of Doug's or my father's gloves, maybe my boots, but she was as uncomfortable in men's things as Evie seemed to be in female stuff.

I knew Mom would hate it if I told her the kids had called Evie my brother.

She was trying hard to change Evie that fall, trying everything, but it was like trying to change the direction of the wind.


HALLOWEEN NIGHT THE DUFFS always invited everyone from nearby farms to come to theirs.

Our town got its name from the Duffs. Their family had founded it way back.

They had a thousand acres. We had a hundred and fifty.

Mr. Duff was a banker, too, and he held the mortgage on most of the farms that weren't paid off yet, including ours.

Evie didn't want to go to the party. Way past dark she was still out in the middle of a back field fooling around with a balky diesel engine, welding something that had broken.

My father said let her stay there, what the heck, but my mother insisted Evie come in and change her clothes and go with us.

I could hear them arguing upstairs while my father sat in front of the TV, watching news of hog and corn futures broadcast on The Farm Report.

"It'd fit you, Evie!" my mother was telling her.

"It might fit me but it doesn't suit me!"

"Try it, that's all."

"Wear a skirt to the Duffs'? I don't care about the Duffs! That's your problem, not mine!"

"What's my problem, Evie?"

"Wishing you were high class is your problem!"

"I am high class."

"You were high class, maybe, back when you were a Parr. Now you're just a farmer's wife, Mother—get used to it!"

My father could hear them, too.

He said to me, "Tell those two we're not going anyplace if they don't get down here right now."

I called up, "So long! We're leaving."

My mother came downstairs in a long black skirt with black boots and a white silk blouse. Her blond hair spilled down to her shoulders, and she had on pearls my father'd bought her back when they first got married.

I was in jeans, boots, and a white shirt.

My dad was in jeans, boots, and a flannel shirt.

When Evie appeared she was in jeans, boots, and a heavy sweatshirt that said GET HIGH ON MILK! OUR COWS ARE ON GRASS!

She wore her hair very short, with a streak of light blond she'd made with peroxide. That was as close as she'd ever come to makeup. She'd written one of her nonrhyming poems about it. (Mom called them "statements.") It began There's only a ribbon of color I put in my black-and-white life./Combed back you can hardly see it, just like my black-and-white life.

She cocked her hand like a gun and shot at me.

"Let's go!" she said.

You could see the blue of her eyes all the way across a room. I thought she looked a little like Elvis Presley.

My father guffawed when he saw the sweatshirt. "Where'd you get that thing?"

Evie always talked out of the side of her mouth. "I got it out at the mall. Like it?"

"Evie," my mother said, "it's not appropriate to wear to the Duffs'."

"Why isn't it appropriate?" my father said. He wasn't crazy about the Duffs, for one thing; for another, he always took up for my sister.

My mother liked to say that's how Evie got to be the way she was. She only listened to my father. Listened to him, walked like him, talked like him, told jokes like him.

While Evie drove us over to the Duffs', Dad started griping about The Duffton National Bank, and how hard they were on the farmers who got behind in their mortgages.

"These are hard times for everybody," my mother said.

Evie said, "Only difference between a pigeon and a farmer today is a pigeon can still make a deposit on a John Deere tractor."

My father let out a hoot and gave her back a slap.

"Where'd you hear that one?" he asked, laughing.

In the backseat, beside me, my mother just sighed.


WE NEVER SAW MUCH of Patsy Duff because she went to private school and summer camp, but she was home for a long weekend.

I watched her that night and thought of that case, a while back, about the babies being switched in the hospital, each one going home to the wrong family.

Patsy looked enough like my mother to be her daughter. Her blond hair fell down her back and she had that same flirty quality my mother had with people, smiling easily into their eyes, listening nicely, and saying the right things back. She had class, like my mother, and seemed older than seventeen.

"Your husband's so handsome, Mrs. Burrman," she told my mother, passing her a mug of cider.

"Oh, Douglas would like to hear that," said my mother.

"I heard you met him in college."

Then my mother went into her story about how she never expected to date an ag student, how she always imagined she'd go for a law student or a journalism student, but Douglas just swept her off her feet, she guessed it was those dimples of his, that smile, instant chemistry, she said, and here I am on a farm in Missouri when I always thought I'd be working for a New York City newspaper.

"Were you in journalism school?" Patsy asked, and my mother nodded.

I hung around in the background, smiling. I wasn't unlike my dad in looks. I was tall and skinny as he was, no dimples but a good smile when I smiled. I didn't often smile at people, as he did. That was more Evie's style. She'd walk right up and glad-hand them and grin at them.

I stood there hoping Patsy Duff would look my way.

My mother read my mind and said to Patsy, "Have you met my son Parr?"

"Hello, Parr," Patsy said. She had on a white wool skirt and a red sweater. "Excuse me, please, Mother may need some help 'long about now."

I watched her walk away. At one end of the large room Evie was down on her knees with her head in a pail of water, ducking for apples, while all the little kids there laughed and clapped.

At the other end of the room the men were gathered around Mr. Duff. He was short and fat, his red face cut with a wide white smile. He had on a blue blazer with gold buttons, and a white turtleneck sweater. He never looked like anyone else in Duffton. Neither did his farm. There was a swimming pool behind the house, and he always had a new-that-year sports car parked in the garage. And not that he ever personally drove a tractor, but if he felt like it there were several of the latest enclosed air-conditioned International Harvesters out near his barn. His help had it real good at Duffarm, which is what the gold sign out front said.

It wasn't that Mr. Duff didn't do good things for the town; he did. There was the Duffton Municipal Swimming Pool he'd paid for; there was the Duffton Community Center. And there was the Veterans' Memorial Statue, center of town—a stone guy in a helmet, charging with a fixed bayonet.

Kids hung things on the bayonet nights they roamed homeward from the movie or the bowling alley. A rubber chicken, a bra, a rubber tire—you never knew what you'd see hanging off it first thing in the morning.

I saw some guys I'd gone to Duffton School with, ones who didn't finish over at County High, dropouts, farming now. Most of them had their own pickups, and they seemed older than me suddenly, talking farm stuff while they shot pool in Mr. Duff's rec room. I hung out with them. Some of them planted and harvested for us, since Doug was in college. One of them was Cord Whittle, who had a crush on Evie. He kept talking about how she could do anything a man could do, then he nudged me and said, "Well, almost!"

We didn't stay late.

Dad had an appointment early the next morning with someone from the Rayborn Company. They serviced farms with things like stacked cages for chickens that never got outside, layers that lived several birds to a cage and never even saw a rooster. Modern farming! It made Mom and me sick to think about it. But Dad wasn't going into the chicken business. If anything, we'd cut way back on all livestock but hogs. We had new ones from Europe that were supposed to produce a lean, low-cholesterol pork, since the whole country seemed to be on a health kick.

Dad just wanted a part-time sales job to help us along. When Mom said she'd just as soon get a job, he asked her what she thought she already had—keeping our books, running our farm.

He wanted Evie to go to the university, too, when he could spare her. Ag school like Doug, so she'd be up on all the new techniques, like learning about the soybean plants they grew in China, ones that could take a good ground soaking better than ours ... That was behind his job hunt, too—Evie's education.

On the way home Mom suddenly noticed Evie had on a different sweatshirt. It was white with a gold seal that said APPLEPERSON ACADEMY.

"Where's your shirt, Evie?"

"I got it wet. Patsy lent me this, and then we decided to trade shirts. This is her school shirt."

"I thought she went to Appleman Academy."

"She does. But the students call it Appleperson Academy, for fun. You know, Mom, you're supposed to say spokesperson for spokesman, and chairperson for chairman. You can't be sexist."

Dad chuckled and said, "Does that make us the Burrpeople?"

"I guess we should change our name," Evie said. "Patsy said her little nieces and nephews can't play cowboys and Indians, anymore, either. They have to play cowpeople and Native Americans."

"She's such a lovely girl," said Mom. "I tried to get something going between you two tonight, but I couldn't seem to do it, could I?"

Evie's face got red. "Why would you try to do that?" she snapped, and she almost drove off the road. "What did you say to her?"

There was a pause before my mother said, "I didn't mean between you and Patsy, Evie. I meant between Parr and Patsy."

No one said anything for a while.

Then my dad said, "Parr's got a case on Toni Atlee, anyway. He doesn't want some girl goes miles away to boarding school."

I said, "I wouldn't mind, but I'd never get to first base with her kind."

Evie didn't say anything the rest of the way home.


AT THANKSGIVING DOUG CAME home from college for the weekend, bringing this sorority girl with him. She was a Tri Delt named Bella Hanna, and I doubt she'd ever been on a farm before.

I think everyone in our family except Doug was thinking the same thing: Don't let her be the one.

She was this redheaded princess who didn't offer to do anything to help Mom get the dinner on, and anytime Doug said he wanted to show her something out back, she'd say, "Do we have to?"

Mostly she sat in the living room reading magazines she'd brought with her: the thick kind filled with fashion ads and the sweet-smelling inserts Mom liked to tear out and put in her underwear drawer. When Evie told Bella Hanna Mom liked to use them for that, she just shrugged and said she never heard of someone doing that. She didn't offer any of them to Mom.

Later I heard her ask Doug if Evie was "all right" and Doug said, "What do you mean?"

"Well, she seems a little odd, the way she dresses and stuff."

"She's a farmer!" Doug said, and he laughed and got red.

"If that's what happens when you're a farmer, spare me," she said.

"Evie's okay," Doug said.

I could remember when Doug would punch out guys who made any cracks about Evie around him. Next to Dad, Doug was Evie's main defender: She was his kid sister he didn't take any lip about. But Bella Hanna was different. She had Doug wrapped around her little finger. He was actually worried about things like were we going to use linen napkins for dinner, and not paper ones. And who was Mom going to sit on the other side of Bella—not Cord Whittle, he hoped!

Mom said, "Cord's not even invited. Evie doesn't want him here."

"Good!" Doug said, relieved.

"What have you got against Cord, Doug?"

"He's a real hick, Mom! If Bella got stuck with that dropout, she'd think that's what farmers are like."

"He's a good farmer, Doug!"

"Yeah, well Melvin's got more sense!"

Melvin was our mule. Evie claimed Melvin was the type of animal who'd work patiently for ten years for the chance to kick you once hard.

I'd never seen my brother in the state he was in. It was as threatening to me as a dark funnel in a pink sky, because I was counting on Doug's decision to farm. As good as Evie was, there was no way she could run our place all by herself ... and our father was already nearing fifty. If Doug changed his mind—if someone like Bella Hanna changed it for him—there was going to be pressure on me.

We had a dozen relatives come for Thanksgiving dinner. I was appointed to say grace and I included a line about keeping our farm safe from harm, hoping it'd go from my lips to God's ears, figuring God would know what I was really talking about.

Mom seated one of the little kids next to Bella Hanna and she blossomed, talking baby talk to him, cutting his meat for him, and announcing she wanted a big family. She said there were five in her family, and that she was from Vermont, and she'd come all the way to Missouri to study journalism.

"Oh, I wanted to be a newspaperwoman too," said my mother.

"What happened?" Bella asked her.

"Mr. Burrman," my mother answered.

"So you sold out for love," said Bella.

"I wouldn't put it that way, myself," my mother said.

Bella Hanna said, "Women always used to give up their dreams for men. It's time men gave up theirs for women."

I could see Doug's Adam's apple bob as he swallowed hard, and he pushed a lock of blond hair out of his face.

"Besides," Bella Hanna continued, "you can't make any money farming anymore. That's what I heard."


Excerpted from Deliver Us from Evie by M. E. Kerr. Copyright © 1994 M. E. Kerr. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Deliver Us from Evie 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book that I would recommend for someone my age ( 18 ) that isnt really into reading. I picked up this book for a book report and after the first chapter (pg. 1-4) i could put the book the book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Deliver Us from Evie, is a great book to read. It is very rare for a girl like Patsy really fancy and high-class(as the book portrays her), to fall in love with a girl like Evie(butch and a farmer). Even though, im not a butch although i am a lesbian i understand this book and why they would feel an attraction for eachother. You dont always know who you are going to fall in love with, it doesnt necessarily have to be with somebody everybody else expects you to. I would strongly recommend this book. It shows you that nomatter how many people are against you, if you are willing to be true to your self and take a stand you will live happy;Like Patsy and Evie you too can end up living together with who you love. ;)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was excelent. I couldnt stop reading it. I finished it in one day. In this book Evie is finally coming out to her family and it is told from the perspective of her 16 year old younger brother, Parr. This book was happy, and sad at somepoints too. It showed how Evie was scared to come out, even though she was already 18. It was a book that I couldnt put down, and i highly recomend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story is narrated by Parr Burrman who lives on the farmlands of Missouri and who's sister, Evie, is a lesbian. M.E. Kerr delves into the issues of growing up lesbian in a rural town and in a family that wants to deny Evie's sexuality because they fear it and fear abuse by others towards her because of it. Besides Evie is almost too 'butch' to be true....or is it that just another stereotype? Sure Evie looks like a young androgynous male and her interests and actions would be characterized as masculine, but she does not wish she had a penis nor does she hate men. She is a young woman who is sexually attracted to other women. Parr is her teenage brother and has to deal with coming to terms with what Evie's sexuality means about Evie as the sister he has always known and how others will act towards him once Evie steps out. This book confronts stereotypes from all angles, even the politically correct angle that would like to deny that some lesbian women look 'butch'. This novel attempts at breaking women, especially lesbian women, free from the constraints the society puts upon them and in doing so frees men from those constraints as well. In addition, Evie's and Patsy's feelings for each other do not end in a catastrophe or morally tainted with guilt. Their relationship survives and is strong which requires the reader like the characters in the novel to deal with lesbian relationships as a force that is here to stay. This is a love story where Romeo and Juliet survive and live happily, albeit not in Verona.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first glance, this novel seems to be about a family dealing with the realization that one of its members is gay. It is much more than that. Each person in the novel is an 'outsider' in some way, and must come to terms with his or her own individuality, and how he or she fits into the community. A 'coming of age' novel for adults as well as young adults.
Guest More than 1 year ago
M. E. Kerr is such a powerful author. This book shows me a lot of things,the life being in a small community,how teenagers seeking real lives belong the themselves. Also,everyone has the different nature, and other people should try to respect he/she and accept the difference.