Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyTwelve-year-old Lacey Bittner returns to Bitter Creek, in the mountains of North Carolina, to a family she doesn't remember. Lacey's mother, Campbell, has agreed to go back to her native home with her lover, David, who has gotten a job at the Mountain Crafts School. But Campbell is unwilling to forget the hurts of the past. Neither is her mother, Eva, the matriarch of the family. Lacey is just as stubborn as her mother and grandmother, though, and learns to stick up for herself when necessary, as well as to give in with grace. The girl settles into her new home, despite misunderstandings between herself and her cousin Tam. But her newfound serenity is shattered when David is killed in an auto accident and Campbell succumbs to grief. Unable to pay the rent, they move into David's barn/workshop. Thanks to Lacey's initiative, their half-completed cabin is finished, as well as a blacksmithing commission that David was working on. At a big family dinner, Eva gives Campbell a commemorative quilt, symbolizing their reunited family. The author of The First Hard Times et al. has created a moving portrait of an adolescent's groping toward maturity and responsibility. Familial relationships, with all their vagaries, are presented in a sympathetic, nonjudgmental manner. (812)
School Library JournalGr 5-8 Twelve-year-old Lacey Bittner's return to her family home in the Appalachians of North Carolina is filled with uncertainties. She and her mother, Campbell, who was young and unwed, had left ten years earlier. Now they are returning with David, Campbell's boyfriend, to begin a new life. Campbell will make leather items, and David will teach blacksmithing at a local school. Lacey is caught in the middle, wanting to be accepted by the extended family of grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles and yet protective of her independence and her mother's ambivalent feelings. The story unfolds at Sunday family dinners, square dances, and through the purchase of a barn and horse. When David is killed in a freak accident, Lacey fears that her new life has been destroyed and that her mother won't recover. With the help of a friend, and finally the family who has learned to love and accept them within new boundaries, Lacey and Campbell finally return to Bitter Creek. Told with wit, humor, and sensitivity, the story reverberates with feeling and emotion. The Appalachian setting, the emphasis on nature, and the strong, believable characters make this a story that is superb in every way. Constance Allen, Tabor Academy, Marion, Mass.
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