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According to family legend, members of Katherine Millar's family "get the key of the door and the hammer of doom at the same time" when they come of age. Which is why Long opens her clever fourth novel with Kat expecting the worst on her 18th birthday. An outcast at school, Kat longs to break away from the suffocating English village of Bank Top. As she wraps up exams and considers her next step, however, a boy turns Kat's world upside-down-leaving her to question everything she's been told about her father, who fell to the family curse in a fatal accident, and her mother, who abandoned Kat shortly thereafter. Long brings to life a host of quirky characters, including Poll, Kat's nearly blind and caustic paternal grandmother who raised her, and Poll's constant companion, Dickie the Dogman, a scavenger who regularly brings gifts of fatty bacon or vacuum cleaner attachments. Long's prose is faithful to the regional dialect, and the story effortlessly encapsulates the end of adolescence and Kat's mixed emotions as she redefines her notion of family and strikes out on her own. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.