Bancroft, Feb 2008, $19.95
In 1975 in Virginia, eighteen years old Grace Barnett has just graduated from high school and looks forward to attending the University of Virginia in the fall. However, her world collapses starting on Memorial Day when she witnesses a boating accident on a nearby creek that looks like a suicide. On the day of the funeral for boating incident victim Tommy White, Grace’s pregnant older sister Lillian returns home after being away for several years; while their mother quietly leaves without a word. Serving as the referee between two combatants, Grace is yanked on one side by Lillian and the other by their alcoholic father.
Grace continues through the summer in the middle trying to mend the rift between her two loved ones. With only the romantic classics of Austen and the Bronte sisters as solace, a desperate Grace turns to their neighbor Cal, the owner of the boat in which Tommy died; Cal has recently returned from serving in Vietnam. However, he suffers from neurosis caused by battle fatigue syndrome and is little help. Even more anxious as she finds no answers from Jane Eyre, Grace travels to North Carolina intending to bring her mom home, but instead returns to Virginia alone as a powerful hurricane hammers BACK CREEK.
This is an interesting coming of age historical tale starring a teenage forced to grow up seemingly over night. Grace is fabulous as she holds the tale together with her perspective on her family, neighbors, and herself. Unlike her sister who fled to New York, Grace has doubts about leaving this BACK CREEK, but this summer of discontent shows her she has inner strength. Young adult readers will identify with the heroine while their parents will root for her to make it.