Gilmore says she was inspired to write the novel because of an old photograph of her great aunt and uncle, taken outside the trailer they'd shared for over 50 years. Her novel explores a world in which living in a trailer would be an absolute luxury for a single teen mom, who wants more for her baby than a life raised in a shack without running water.
In so many novels, the young girl/boy is forced to drop out of school and go to work in the factory in order to support the family, and then they end up quitting the factory, going to college, rising above it all, etc. etc. In this novel, Emmalee at 16 quits school and begin her life in the sewing factory and instantly enters a better life. Her poverty-infested world, which has been one humiliation after another with her abusive, drunken father, becomes a more livable place when she has just a little money and a purpose.
Emmalee becomes the special project of Loretta, who has a reputation as being cold and harsh. But Emmalee softens Loretta, and when Emmalee discovers that she is pregnant, Loretta promises to take her and the baby to her trailer to live. But what's a good southern novel without a tragic event? I'll avoid spoilers and stop here.
I really loved this novel. I am partial to mountain stories, especially ones that neither romanticize nor degrade the folks of Appalachia. This isn't a literary masterpiece, but it's a sweet, hopeful novel with a good dose of melancholy and redemption.
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