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School Library Journal
Gr 5-8- Aggie Duncan cannot muster the energy to fix up the Sleepy Time Motel since her husband died, and with no visitors stopping by on North Carolin's Smoky Mountains back roads, she reluctantly concludes that it's time to sell. Within days of placing an ad, she has an offer from Clyde Dover, who is eager to make a new life for himself and his daughter, Willow, after his wife's desertion. They are soon joined by Loretta and her parents, who are on a journey to learn more about Lorett's birth mother, and Kirby and his mother, whose car broke down en route to a last-ditch reform school. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Aggie, Willow, Loretta, and Kirby as the four family units get to know one another and form unlikely friendships. While Clyde is eager to improve the motel, Willow shows him the wisdom of keeping some of Aggie's traditions. Angry Kirby, who has spent a lifetime living up to his label as a troublemaker, is initially irritated by Lorett's bubbling optimism, but he comes to appreciate the value of her trust. And Aggie learns that even the emptiness of her husband's absence cannot seal her heart from a girl who misses her mother. O'Connor's knack for well-developed characters and feisty protagonists is evident, as is her signature Southern charm. While the format increases the distance between readers and characters, the author's fans will find much to enjoy in this examination of family in the 21st century.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VACopyright 2008 Reed Business Information.