Evangeline Brown is a feisty, eleven year old who is ashamed of living with her widowed, alcoholic father in his run-down Florida motel with the butt end of a pink Cadillac sticking out of the office wall. She is stubbornly independent, but when Farrell, a strange boy her age suddenly appears in town, she cautiously befriends him. The two decide they must take drastic action when the new teacher says she will visit the homes of everyone in the class.
Ebook includes bonus alternate ending and discussion questions.
Sixth-grader Eddie (short for Evangeline Dawn) Brown, narrator of this impressive first novel, lives in Paradise, Fla., a town "full of dust and dirt and rotting buildings," and her history is just as grim as the setting. Her mother is dead, her pa is alcoholic, and Eddie hates living in a run-down motel, which features "the big butt end of pink Cadillac looks like it's crashed partway through the cinder-block wall of the motel office." Eddie's prospects for the future begin to brighten, however, after she meets three newcomers to Paradise: Miss Rose, a teacher who recognizes Eddie's intelligence and singing talent; Angelique Starr, an exotic-looking guest at the motel; and, most importantly, Farrell Garrett, a boy who has suffered even more than Eddie. When Eddie and Farrell overhear Miss Rose planning to call Social Services about the poor living conditions of some of her students, the two decide to run away. Davis's skillful assembly of well-defined characters and her precise, concisely wrought descriptions add color to Eddie's bleak surroundings and demonstrate that love, beauty and compassion can flourish in the most unlikely places. Ages 8-up.