As if her parents’ ugly divorce wasn’t bad enough, fifteen-year-old Victoria Peterson is yanked away from her whole world in Dallas and plopped down on a rundown farm in a teeny tiny north Texas town. No more good friends a few minutes away, no more fancy city life, and no more Mom nearby to dry her tears. Her older sister Marcy seems to be settling in fine, but the only friend Victoria has been able to find is as fickle as the Texas wind. Victoria retreats to the beautiful cemetery garden for solitude, but even there her peace is disturbed by strange happenings. A mysterious voice. Objects disappearing. Town rumor says a ghost inhabits the grave yard. As a Believer, Victoria isn’t sure what to make of that, but she can’t deny that something strange is occurring. As she meets others who’ve had similar experiences in the grave yard, she begins tenuous bonds with the townspeople.
Of course, it’s all temporary. Once Mom gets back from her month-long honeymoon, she’ll call wanting the girls to come and live with her. Then it’s back to the city and all her friends for Victoria. No more of this awful country stuff. As days tick past and the call doesn’t come, Victoria begins to wonder if her mother will come through at all. She’s always been Mom’s favorite. Why is it taking so long for her to reach her?
When Mom finally calls, she invites both the girls for a visit. When Marcy and Victoria arrive at their mother’s new mansion home, neither is prepared for the venomous surprise that awaits them in the form of their new step-sister, Crystal. Rude and manipulative, Crystal is determined to be queen of the castle, and she’s not leaving room for anyone else. Mom and her new husband Sam seem oblivious to Crystal’s conniving ways. Rejected and discouraged, Victoria returns to her dad’s farm. How will she ever get out of the country now?
A health crisis and a threatening letter send Victoria’s world deeper into a spiral. Only by banding together and accepting help from others can she ever hope to survive, especially with her mother being so distant. Victoria must learn to accept life and those around her as is, but how can she learn to trust anyone when she is let down at every turn?
Divorce is one of the most difficult events a child can be asked to overcome. As Victoria struggles to make sense of both her parents’ behavior, she often feels sad and unwanted and cannot understand why her parents act as they do. As she learns about forming new relationships with others, she reflects on the relationships with her parents and begins to see their behavior in a new way. Perhaps Dad is really grieving; maybe Mom feels rejected. She also learns the value of forgiveness and community. Author Janet K Brown draws readers in to the small Texas town, filled with western-style characters and close-knit community feel. In a few places, the narrative seems to zoom out, telling readers what Victoria really means or is experiencing, more often it feels true to the teen experience. Readers who’ve experienced a difficult move to a new place or been through a family divorce will enjoy this story and its messages of hope and healing.
Characters discuss living a life of Christian love and forgiveness. Victoria wonders whether ghosts exist, a question echoed by others in her life. Characters conclude that God can do anything, even use a ghost for his purposes.
References to an arson plot. A boy shows up at a party looking like he’s been in a fight.
Some kids appear to be drinking alcohol at a party. They are not welcome, and the main character does not associate with them.