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When her best friend Gemma's parents are killed in a house fire, Jessilyn Lassiter's parents take the girl in. Trouble is, the year is 1932, Gemma is black, the Lassiters are white, and they live in a small Virginia town. Spunky Jessilyn is 13 years old, but her story will appeal to readers of all ages. Winner of the Christian Writers Guild's 2007 Operation First Novel contest, Valent's debut is both heartwarming and hand-wringing as it shows how one family endured the threats small and large of a prejudiced community while maintaining moral integrity. The cast of characters is rich. Jessilyn's mother wrestles with the social cost of challenging convention, her father is a dream dad and the neighbor's wisdom is as spicy as her cake. Jessilyn's romantic interest and penchant for trouble keep the tone light while the plot reminds readers of the evil that ordinary human beings are capable of doing, even in the name of righteousness. The book stares down violence and terror, making its affirmation of surprising goodness believable. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.