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4.2 5
by Lisa Colozza Cocca

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The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father's periodic violent rages. When the family's barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned


The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father's periodic violent rages. When the family's barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old. After years of tending to her siblings, sixteen-year-old Becky knows just what a baby needs. This baby needs a mother. With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it's with baby "Georgia" in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though. Many suspect Becky and her baby are not what they seem. Among the doubters is a beautiful, reclusive woman with her own terrible loss and a long history with Rosie. As Becky's life becomes entangled with the lives of the people in town, including a handsome boy who suspects Becky is hiding something from her past, she finds her secrets more difficult to keep. Becky should grab the baby and run, but her newfound home and job with Rosie have given Becky the family she's never known. Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time. But it's a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make. Should she run away again? Should she stay--and fight? Or lie? What does the future hold for Becky and Georgia? With a greatness of heart and a stubborn insistence on hope found in few novels of any genre, Providence proves that home is where you find it, love is an active verb, and family is more than just a word.

"When 16-year-old Becky Miller rescues an abandoned newborn, a nontraditional family is born, attracting other warm-hearted women into its folds. Reading Providence is like cozying up with longtime friends in front of a homey fire." --Sherry Shahan, author of Skin and Bones (Albert Whitman & Co.)

"A beautifully written tale about trying to make the right choice when there might not be one." --Wendy Mass, author of A Mango-Shaped Space (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sixteen-year-old Becky runs away from her abusive father, eight younger siblings, and a hard life on her family’s South Carolina farm by jumping a train, where she finds an abandoned infant. Becky and “Baby Girl” land in a small town in Georgia, where Becky meets elderly shop-owner Rosie, who immediately gives Becky a job and soon takes her and the baby into her home, too. Becky’s artistic streak, work ethic, and optimism serve her well in the initially unfriendly town—she improves sales at the store and develops a crush on a handyman. But her father’s harsh and cynical words are ever-present in her mind, nosy townspeople suspect that Becky isn’t Baby Girl’s mother, and Rosie’s health fails, causing Becky to second-guess the happiness she’s found. Despite the hardships Becky faces, debut novelist Cocca offers a rosy picture of small-town life, with Becky’s personality and narration bordering on Pollyannaish. Her remarkable and constant luck comes across as unlikely and, similarly, the ending is disappointingly tidy. Ages 14–up. Agent: Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Becky's sweet-as-honey first-person narrative voice suits the dialogue-driven story well--she is an uncomplicated heroine, resourceful and completely without self-pity." --Kirkus Reviews

"Rosie, Becky, and Georgia Rose create a family built of mutual need, love, and kindness in this gentle tale of life in nostalgic small-town America.... Cocca portrays a community of sympathetic characters...who believe in the promise of life's second chances." --Booklist

VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - CJ Bott
Two things stand out about this book: the setting and the main character. Watson’s Grove, Georgia, a small town filled with big-hearted people, is nearly a character itself. After fleeing her home and abusive father, Becky arrives in Watson’s Grove carrying a parcel she discovered on an empty train car she had sneaked onto in her escape: a newborn baby girl tucked into a gym bag. Becky knows about babies, she has just left nine siblings behind whom she had cared for while her mother worked the farm. With the coins she has scraped together, Becky walks into a shop called Second Hand Rose, a place she soon learns to call home. The owner of the shop gives Becky a job and eventually a warm, loving place to live and heal. As the story flows, these three females become a family with Becky discovering how to live outside of the hurt-filled place from which she came. The town people love Rose and that love extends to Becky and little Georgia Rose. As the lies pile up around her, Becky’s past misery is lost in this Mayberry-like setting. Only Becky and her thoughts keep the reader anchored in the pain that has been her life. The author is good at weaving these three together but other characters are nearly stereotypes and the plot is predictable. Though there are hints that this takes place in the present, the author moves the story outside of time. Nearly everything but Becky’s past is too good to be true. The book will appeal to girls who want that kind of escape, particularly if they like bucolic southern towns. Reviewer: CJ Bott; Ages 11 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
Southern manners abound in this predictable debut, in which a girl on the run takes on an abandoned baby and is helped in turn by an elderly woman who owns a secondhand shop. Sixteen-year-old Becky is a good girl who helps take care of a slew of younger siblings. But when a boy stopping by to see her inadvertently burns down her family's barn, the anticipated wrath of her father causes her to light out—taking with her some meager savings and hopping aboard a freight train, where she discovers the baby. Overcome with tender feelings for the infant, she stumbles into the role of adoptive mom, despite having nowhere to live. While there is plenty of tension to sustain readers, including Becky's worry that others may discover the baby is not her daughter and an eventual bid for the little girl's custody by a local woman who has experienced a terrible tragedy, it feels melodramatic due to the overabundance of coincidences and characters that play to type. Yet, to its credit, Becky's sweet-as-honey first-person narrative voice suits the dialogue-driven story well—she is an uncomplicated heroine, resourceful and completely without self-pity. Teens who take a special interest in realistic fiction may want to check this one out, but its appeal otherwise will likely be limited. (Fiction. 12-16)

Product Details

Adams Media
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865 KB
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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Meet the Author

Lisa works full-time as a freelance writer/editor of curriculum materials and school/library books. Her love for children's and young adult literature developed over years of working as a teacher and a school librarian, as well as years of reading to her own children. Providence is her first novel.

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Providence 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
Stepping into sixteen year old Becky’s mind and heart is a journey well worth taking! Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca is a moving tale of a very poor young girl who has spent her entire life under the thumb of an often cruel father, being a surrogate mother to her nine younger siblings. The final straw finally sends Becky running from the suffocation of the only life she has known. Without a plan, she hops aboard a freight train, discovering a small bag that will change her life forever. A newborn infant is bundled into a small duffle, left alone in the world. Without hesitation, Becky takes the baby girl and after a brief search to find her parents, and not knowing what to do, she keeps her. As she wanders, foraging for food for the baby, sleeping anywhere she can find, she comes across Rosie, an eccentric second hand shop owner who knows Becky is hiding something, but slowly enfolds both her and the baby into her life and home. Becky is fiercely protective of the baby and finds an outlet for the love she both longs to give and to receive. Becky’s talents and simple grace, along with her need to see life as beautiful finds this small town opening up to her in a heart-warming way, proving to her that home isn’t necessarily where you were born, but where your heart is filled with love. Lisa Colozza Cocca has used Becky’s voice and thoughts to tell her story, from the eyes of a teen, who has never had much and is determined to make it in the world. Brilliantly detailing the real responsibilities of caring for an infant, from the constant changing, to the every two hours of feeding, the expenses and exhaustive hours spent being there for a child; Ms. Cocca has laid bare the daily reality of being a parent, and Becky is far beyond her years in patience and the capacity for selflessness. I enjoyed the way she dug in and made it real, not a dreamy, fluffy version of life as a parent. Anyone who would find this boring or repetitive definitely is NOT up for task! Ms. Cocca writes with a soft hand, gently unfolding this heart-warming and sometimes heart-breaking journey she leads Becky on. This is a story of hope and growth, and futures never dreamed of coming true, a story of the unselfishness of real love. Wonderful writing, magnetic!
karmstr112 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful characters in an engaging thought-provoking story. 
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars Fleeing her father after an incident with the barn, Becky hops a freight train out of town hoping to start a new life. It is what is inside this freight car that will change the course of Becky’s life forever. Inside one of the railcars, placed in a duffle bag tucked in the corner, is an abandoned baby. This responsibility was not on 16 year-old Becky’s list of travels when she jumped onboard but she realizes she cannot leave this newborn baby. Becky decides to care for this baby until she can find its mother. As the train stops in Watson’s Grove, Becky needs to find the necessities for the child. As she walks into the thrift shop owned by Rose, it was like destiny. Rose and Becky hit it off and before Becky walked out the door, she has a job at the thrift shop and most of what she needed for the time being. The people of Watson Grove are typical of most small towns, some spread gossip about the new mother and child and some were excited to see the new faces in town. Becky has to be creative about her past and the baby’s short history as the town folk want answers about their lives while Becky continues to search for answers herself. As Becky settles in, she also thinks about her parents and her siblings on the farm. Her mind is never far from the ranch and wondering if they are also thinking about her. It is small town living with drama, love and secrets. This story will touch your heart. I fell in love with this book from the first couple pages. As Becky walked off the farm and started on her adventure, I knew the couch was going to be my home for a while. Becky was confused about her role at home before she left. When she finally set off and hit the tracks, she was going to do what she wanted to do….finally but that all changed when she came upon the bag. She never contemplated what to do, I liked that. That said a lot about the character of Becky. She did try a few times to locate the mother but she didn’t question her decision. That theme carried all the way through the book. Watson Grove reminded me of the small town my grandparents lived it. How they would decorate for the holidays, the chatter, the hospitality, the gossip – reading the book took me back to when I was a child and would visit there. The author did an excellent job describing the characters and the setting- oh, the memories. The ending, it was perhaps the best ending possible but for Becky…..I would have been more reluctant and wanted a lawyer. It just was wrapped up a bit too tight for me. Thank you Net Galley for providing me a free copy to review. This is my own opinion of the book.
Books4Tomorrow More than 1 year ago
My opinion on this light novel varied throughout, and so also my final rating. I would’ve originally gone with a four-star rating, but the last twenty-five percent of the story was incredibly frustrating, and I couldn’t wait for it to end. I finally decided to go with a three-star rating for various reasons. Still, I enjoyed Providence, and I’m glad I took a chance on it. First of all, the entire concept of a seventeen-year-old runaway coincidentally discovering an abandoned days-old infant in a train cart on the exact same day she decides to run away from home, didn’t sit well with me. My disbelief didn’t end there though. As a mother of two boys I find it difficult to get my mind around the idea that said seventeen-year-old runaway could raise an abandoned infant with the same amount of patience, tolerance, and understanding which few first-time mothers possess and which can only be learned through experience. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I just didn’t find it plausible. She claims to have the necessary experience taking responsibility for a newborn as she has helped her mother raise nine of her siblings, yet she makes formula for the baby with cold, unsterilized tap water? And the baby doesn’t get sick nor has any stomach cramps? Sorry dude, but I’m not falling for that. I could believe that Becky loved the baby with her entire heart, but again, there’s no way she could have the patience displayed by her in this story for a child which isn’t hers.  Apparently she kept an eye on the papers to see if anyone reported a missing baby, but why didn’t she go to the police? Understandably she doesn’t want them to find out she ran away from home, and of course I can accept that. But where it got a little ridiculous for me is when Rose, when she is finally told the truth, just accepts it, asks no questions, and doesn’t really want to hear any more about where Becky and the baby comes from. When people in town asks questions about Becky and the baby, you know, the ones who doesn’t blindly accept a young girl with a baby that looks nothing like her and who keeps secrets about her past, Rose shushes them and tells them not to ask any questions. The cherry on the cake for me was how easily Becky’s family accepted that she ran away from home, and then tells her never to come back (in a letter). I understand her father would never ever win the father of the year award, but did her mother really accept her disappearance so easily? Aren’t her siblings missing her? How can anyone not be looking for her? Doesn’t she have any other family or friends? Though all this didn’t really distract me from enjoying the story, these questions were constantly going through my mind. I liked most of the characters, and I’d love to have someone as accepting as Rosie in my life. Who wouldn’t? She turns a blind eye to practically everything! For an eighty-eight-year-old she’s quite lively and full of energy. That was another thing I didn’t always find plausible, but it was the least of my concerns. I liked her character very much and left it at that. In stark contrast, I liked Becky’s character less and less. By the end I really couldn’t wait to get away from her. The three things that really annoyed me about her character, especially from the middle to the conclusion of the book, were her passiveness, aloofness, and how she pushed the people who wanted to help her or who wanted to be friends, away from her. Take Lydia for instance. Lydia is unbelievably pushy and harsh, and generally not a likeable character. But where I didn’t like her much in the first seventy-five percent of the book, she redeems herself magnificently in the last twenty-five percent or so.  What I did enjoy about Providence, and which made it bearable to read from start to end, was the close bond that formed between Rosie and Becky. Like I said before, Rosie is a phenomenal character and her faith in people is unequaled. It’s hard to believe her granddaughter wants almost nothing to do with her. I also liked how Becky contributed in breathing new life into the small town that became her and baby Georgia’s new home.  The romance between John and Becky can hardly be called that as nothing really happens between them. I couldn’t even see what John would see in her as she’s so closed off. So little interaction happens between them anyway, it’s not a novel I’d recommend to romance junkies. They’ll be severely disappointed, though I wasn’t. The last thing I needed was for that storyline to be dragged out in an already slow book. Luckily I was spared from that.   Providence is a book with which you’ll need to have a lot of patience. It’s a nice story and I liked that it’s different. But that’s all it is. It’s just nice. Most of it comprises of Becky and Rosie’s daily doings. No character growth, as far as I’m concerned, as Becky is already very mature for her age, more so than you’d expect from your average seventeen-year-old. There were no conflict (nothing to get excited about, at least), no twists, no suspense, nothing. Yet, I couldn’t put it down every time I picked it up to continue to the next chapter. For me it was just an okay read, but I definitely would like to see what else this author has to offer.  I received an eARC for review from the publisher via NetGalley.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read Providence because I like the premise of her finding the baby, needing to escape home, and finding acceptance and love in the small town where she gets off the train. I have read another book similar to it, except the girl took her little sister because her mom was on drugs I think. I liked the story well enough, it for me just pushes the boundary of realism. I am sure that something like this could happen, but I guess I have a hard time believing that she could make it with a little girl on her own knowing no one, and that her parents wouldn't come looking for her. I understand that they were a farm family and her dad had a temper, but with the mom and 9 other siblings, and her leaving without notice and not being of age, it just breaks my heart that they wouldn't look for her or care that she is gone. The small town feeling was amazing in this one. She happens upon the nicest lady, Rosie who gives her a job and eventually takes her and baby girl Georgia into her home. But some of the other town members, reasonably, ask questions, and it makes Becky uncomfortable to lie, but some she can't escape. The way they described the main street and everyone up in other's business really gave it an authentic ring to it and almost made me think this was a historical fiction, but there is still mentions of texting and other such modern conveniences, so that threw that idea. The bond between Rosie and Becky I think is what made me keep reading this book. Oh and the mentions of John and hints at romance that unfortunately didn't come to fruititon like I would have hoped. But that is another thing, that romance and any thoughts of that were squashed by Becky and she was being responsible in the ways that counted for baby Georgia even if there were many things she was doing wrong. Rosie is so sweet and unasuming but she also pushes Becky to be the best she can be. I didn't feel like Becky had enough personality though, she was kind of just there and leading the story, I didn't get a whole lot of feeling for who she was besides the generic daughter, sister, and caregiver of Georgia. I did like that she was selfless towards Georgia and Rosie, putting their needs first and that she was a hard worker. The most I got from her really was that she liked to read, and when she was decorating the store or making things I almost got that breakthrough of what she loved and who she could become. Though I suppose to be fair, by the ending where she had Rosie vested in her as well as another townsperson the mysterious Lily on her side, she began to think some of the what-ifs, and how could it work. The ending worked for this one, but I guess I just wanted more information about Becky's choices and how it works out. And more of John... Bottom Line: Good contemporary with secondary characters I loved. Becky and romance just fell a little short.