It has been eight years since Hope’s mom died in a car accident. Eight years of shuffling from foster home to foster home. Eight years of trying to hold on to the memories that tether her to her mother. Now Sarah, Hope’s newest foster mom, has taken her from Minneapolis to spend the summer on the Nebraska farm where Sarah grew up. Hope is set adrift, anchored only by her ever-present and memory-heavy backpack. Accustomed to the clamor of city life, Hope is at first unsettled by the silence that descends over the farm each night. But listening deeply, she begins to hear the quiet: the crickets’ chirp, the windsong, the steady in and out of her own breath. Soon the silence is replaced by voices, like echoes sounding across time the voices of girls who inhabited the old farmhouse before her. Reluctantly, Hope begins to stretch down roots in the earth and accept this new family as her own.
Narratives, diaries and letters woven together, often too tidily, tell the stories of four girls from different generations who each find a way to reclaim their lives on a small Nebraska farm. Hope, whose mother died eight years earlier, is 14 when her latest foster mother, Sarah, brings her to the farm--the site of "earth finds." These archeological treasures, such as barrettes and gold coins, become touchstones for each girl's experience and for Hope's ultimate sense of belonging. Abigail, the daughter of a 19th-century homesteading family unable to meet the demands of the frontier, returns to her prized meadow to die. Rebecca, a hired girl on the farm at the turn of the 20th century, eventually helps to heal the family she works for and marries the son. Her daughter, Anna (Sarah's mother), still runs the farm, and she and Sarah welcome Hope. Unfortunately, Hope's character does not seem convincing; her struggles are too easily won. Some tying of threads across the girls' narratives is contrived, such as Anna's meeting with Abigail just before she dies and the creation of a "story quilt" at the end. However, the letters and diaries, while uneven, offer some of the more fluid passages here and may sustain readers' interest in this first novel. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.