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If ever an author is able to write a wonderfully poignant novel about two young girls and an unstable mother, Wallis is the one. She has a such a fluent way of storytelling and a compassionate treatment of her characters. Bean is twelve, her sister fifteen and though it is usually her older sister who takes care of her, circumstances will later dictate that it is Bean who will become the fighter. Bean has a big mouth, she believe in justice and she does not believe in letting things go. She reminds me so much of myself at that age. Unfortunately for many of us family or life circumstances make one grow up much faster than their chronological age can show. Bean is our narrator and I do not believe she is an unreliable one. Although they grew up faster as far as responsibility, the girls are still naive in many things to do with the world.
Family, and family loyalty are also themes. The pros and cons of living in a small town. Segregation and the repercussions of schools being forced to segregate. I also liked the almost tender way Wallis treats the mental illness of their mother, who does manage to hold it together long enough when her daughter really needed her. Bean wormed her way into my heart, just as a young Jeanette did in her memoir, "Glass Castle." She understands young girls and I hope she writes many more stories such a this one. She really gets it. ARC from Publisher.