When Luke stumbles upon a new girl in the field near his house he is more than a little taken aback, particularly when she starts pelting him with questions. Gracie Moor turns out to be like no other girl that Luke has ever met, and despite the fact that he often finds himself flustered and apologetic in her presence, the two become fast friends. Even once school starts and the girls all compete to win Gracie’s favour Luke still knows within himself that Gracie is the best friend he’s ever had.
But things quickly become difficult for Gracie and her mother Raedine in this sleepy prairie town. When rumours about their past make their way to Junction, the news spreads quickly. Gracie soon finds herself ostracized by the very girls who had recently vied for her friendship. Bravely she endures their taunts and small cruelties but the whole town seems bent on condemning Raedine and Gracie. Luke struggles to make sense of their righteousness and anger. When tragedy strikes he is confronted with questions and confusion, along with guilt and shame.
This latest gem from wordsmith Valerie Sherrard is a poignant and powerful tale that captures a time and place even as it gently reveals truths that are timeless and heartbreaking. Luke’s voice rings clear and true as he narrates this story simply, sensitively and with the innocence of a small-town boy in 1947 who can’t even make sense of his own feelings much less of all the outrage and anger that his community has chosen to direct at its newest members.
Sherrard has filled her book with memorable characters and raises many provocative questions. She casts a light on some of the more disquieting aspects of human nature, and she doesn’t provide the happy ending that might allow readers to breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, there is heartbreak and sadness and a lack of closure, as is so often the case in real life. Yet somehow Luke makes his own peace with what has happened as does the reader in this finelywrought tale that is as touching as it is unforgettable. —Lisa Doucet