As a young boy, Davey had been orphaned. His Uncle Marsh and Aunt Esther raised him. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Davey is accompanying Esther to the train station. Uncle Marsh is returning home after serving in WWI. When he’d left, he’d been strong and in the best of health. Davey describes the man now standing before him. “His eyes were so deeply embedded in his skull that they appeared as black holes, and gray splotches covered his skin like a dog with mange. He walked with a shuffle …” Davey understands that the army “…sent him home to die.” But, Aunt Esther wasn’t going to let Marsh die. She hired Sister Rose, a black woman who practiced ancient herbal remedies. Many people thought she was a witch. And, many people had a problem with a black woman working for Marsh and Esther Langsdon.
While Sister Rose tended to Uncle Marsh, Davey got to know her son, Daniel. It was awkward at first, but slowly they became friends. Eventually, Davey joined with Daniel and a black girl, Rachel, to help with the renovation of a house to use as a school. It was Sister Rose’s dream for the blacks to learn to read and write. The schoolhouse was located in Boonsville, where most of the blacks lived. Many of the whites thought that’s where they should keep themselves. The hatred within the Twin Forks community began to escalate to dangerous levels.
This is all told from Davey’s perspective. It was the year he ‘grew up’ in many ways. It’s a ‘coming of age’ story of the aftermath of war, racial hatred within the United States, standing up for what is right, learning about love and learning about hate. Since Uncle Marsh’s illness was a part of the story, I would have liked to have known what he was actually suffering with. I took the liberty of doing a ‘google’ search to try to figure it out, and believe it was either radiation poisoning or a reaction to mustard gas. This is a historical fiction which seems to have been researched particularly well. Hearing the story from Davy’s viewpoint was the perfect vehicle for this story. Rating: 4.5 out of 5.