There are two constants in Opal’s life: her dad’s grungy green baseball cap, and her troubled pal, Marianne, whom Opal loves as a best friend . . . and even more. But nothing stays the same forever. When Opal receives the horrifying news that Marianne is dead, she suddenly must live her life and make decisions based on the needs of one person instead of two. Only with the help of her family and the story of Hannah, a runaway slave, can Opal begin to free herself from the weight of her memories, her ghosts, and her own truth.
Gr 9 Up
Marianne and Opal, two African-American girls, have grown up like sisters and sheltered one another from the racism of their small Pennsylvania town. Now in high school, Marianne has revealed a wild side. She skips school, uses drugs, and fools around with boys. Opal makes good grades and enjoys reading. Opal loves Marianne in a way that Marianne does not return. Suddenly, Marianne is dead. It's unclear whether it was an accident or suicide, but it doesn't matter. Opal is devastated and draws into a shell of remembrance of the good and bad times the two had shared. She copes by recalling a legend her family told to both girls about a slave who escaped from a Maryland plantation and fell in love during her journey north. After her lover gave his life to protect her, Hannah magically flew over a ravine to escape slave catchers-the same ravine in which Marianne died. In this coming-of-age story, Opal finds that time, family, and ultimately love actually can begin to heal wounds. Hegamin's first novel is richly imaginative as it deals with difficult subjects. Opal's and Hannah's parallel stories of love and loss blend seamlessly in this small book that packs a big wallop.-Janet Hilbun, Texas Woman's University, Denton