Gr 6-9-In the small community of Half Moon, North Carolina, news spreads instantly when 13-year-old Edie Jo's father announces in church that he feels vacation Bible school should be open to Indian children. In the 1950s even a church could be divided as to exactly how far brotherly love should extend. Instantly ostracized as radicals, the girl's family must make uncomfortable adjustments. Although a fearful person by nature, Edie Jo comes to know and admire her classmate Cherokee Fish when he surprises her during frequent walks to an isolated sawmill, but her fear is rekindled by his miscreant brother. While wandering a mountain with her best friend, Edie Jo stumbles upon a scene of pure terror. While the scenes that set up the initial premise lack punch, Oughton's characters are vividly realized. Grandmother Hoop wouldn't consciously harm anyone, yet she carelessly wounds deeply enough to incite arson and murder. Edie Jo's mother ``stands by her man'' publicly, but privately and vehemently questions her husband's deed. The plot culminates in the death of Cherokee Fish, but not of hope. Mood and tone are perfectly achieved through flawless first-person narration. Accurate and effortless conveying of the details of cooking, schooling, and Appalachian socializing beautifully establish place and time. A riveting contribution to the literature of compassion, without being trite or preachy.-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
A story of small-town bigotry and personal transformation in the 1950s is told with quiet drama. There's uproar in Half Moon, North Carolina, when Edie Jo's father wants to allow the local Indian and half-breed kids to attend the Baptist Vacation Bible School. Thirteen-year-old Edie Jo is as mad as her mother that Daddy has dragged the family into his "fizzled integration crusade." She's afraid of "them", the Indians who live in the shacks on the edge of town. Then she gets to know and love her classmate Cherokee Fish, and she reaches beyond herself to imagine his life. The first-person narrative is sometimes too articulate, but the characters are drawn with complexity. Edie Jo comes to see that her wise, gentle grandmother understands grief but not integration. Poverty doesn't ennoble people: the Indian outsiders are as angry and alienated as the whites. As the tension builds to a violent climax, Cherokee Fish's simple words to Edie Jo echo through the story: "You are so far from where I am."
"Understated and candid, Oughton's first novel will linger in the reader's memory." Publishers Weekly, Starred
"A riveting contribution to the literature of compassion, without being trite or preachy." School Library Journal