About this Book
Four-time Golden Spur award winner Williams (The Island Harp) fills her Depression-era saga with gritty details and keen social observations. Laurie, 11, and her younger brother, Buddy, are left with their much-despised grandfather in Oklahoma after a dust storm kills their mother and decimates their family farm, inspiring their father to seek work in California. Determined to join him, the children hop a freight train, with Laurie posing as a boy. A series of chance encounters shapes their future. An unlikely tramp inspires Laurie with his music and gives her a harmonica; another hobo with surprising talents becomes the children's protector. And a sinister entrepreneur emerges as their nemesis. A procession of bleak shantytowns, rapacious employers and impoverished families mirrors the nation's tragedy. Eventually, the advent of WW II and oil strikes in Texas put a different twist on Laurie and Buddy's adventures, but at this point multiple subplots (battle dramas, romantic interludes) begin to spin out of control.