Charlie's sister Graceanne is only twelve years old in 1960, but she is well known in Cranepool's Landing, Missouri. She has the highest IQ in her school and the most creative misbehavior record. She's the star of the junior girls' softball team and a thorough rebel. Although she and her older sister, Kentucky, tease their younger brother roughly, he admires her enormously - especially after he secretly reads the notebooks he finds hidden in the springs of her bed. They make up "Graceanne's Book" - a marvelous outpouring of overt and disguised emotion in the form of an ongoing tale. From them and from his growing bond with Graceanne herself he learns about a spirit that cannot be broken, a mind that remains independent, and a heart that welcomes genuine connections wherever they are found. When their father slips out of the picture and their mother, Edie, must move with the three children to a poor and mostly black neighborhood, it is typical of Graceanne that she defies southern prejudice to become best friends with the black girl next door. But Edie, desperately on the edge of poverty and pathetically concerned with how the world sees her, finds this one more frustration to take out by physically abusing her daughter. The author penetrates the world of a small Missouri town forty years ago with the kind of detail that makes a setting come alive.
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