With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister--and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clinch his fuel monopoly. To keep him at bay and keep her family out of foster care, Melia must come up with a father--and fast. And so when a hobo rolls out of a passing truck, Melia grabs opportunity by its beard. Can she hold off the hounds till shecomes of age?
"*Starred Review* You have read the bare bones of this book before: mother dies, oldest daughter takes care of her siblings, trouble comes, and help arrives but not without complication. Even the Virginia mountain town of Depression era Walnut Ridge feels mighty familiar. But Bayard's unseemly cast of characters gives it fresh life in a story as colorful as a Shenandoah spring and as gritty as the gravel surrounding the family's gas station, Brenda's Oasis. And 14-year-old Amelia is determined to keep that gas station running, even if she only has 11-year-old Earle and young Janey for help. Unfortunately, Harley Blevins owns all the other Standard Oil stations in the area, and he wants the Oasis bad enough to see the family split up. Enter Hiram Watts, a hobo who could be the father figure to save the day, if he didn't come with his own problems. Narrator Amelia tells the story with a folksy twang and uses plenty of cussin', heaps of hollerin', and tons of gumption. Her foible-ridden supporting cast features more adults than kids, and in an interesting twist, they give young readers insight into grown-up issues that transcend those usually found in youth books. Most of all, though, this is a darn good yarn with plenty of room for rooting and more than a few laughs.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2016 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Featuring a heroine as pragmatic and resourceful as Mary Call from Where the Lilies Bloom, adult author Bayard's (Roosevelt's Beast) poignant Depression-era novel traces the struggles of 14-year-old Melia Hoyle and her siblings after their mother's death. Now orphaned, Melia has to care for siblings Janey and Earle, keep the family gas station running, and find a legal guardian so they won't be put into foster care. Unexpected help comes from a down-and-out hobo, Hiram Watts, who agrees to pose as their estranged father. While he spends his days holed up in a tiny bedroom, Melia pumps gas and fixes engines. The deception works for a while, but a competing businessman, Harley Blevins, is bent on bringing down Melia and the gas station. Set in rural Virginia and told through Melia's no-nonsense narration, this period novel evokes the stoicism of mountain people and the ways neighbors help each other during hard times. Although a loner by nature, Melia's uncompromising integrity wins the trust and affection of community members while earning her a steady stream of customers, too. Ages 12-up. Agent: Dan Conaway, Writers House. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."