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Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre

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This is a middle-school novel for grades 5-8, and I will let School Library Journal tell you what it is about because I cannot do it with their verve or innuendo: “When her mother passes away from cancer, middle-schooler Wavie B. Conley comes under the care of Samantha Rose, the cruel aunt she's never met. Samantha Rose and Wavie's extended family are crude, verbally abusive slobs, and their run-down Kentucky neighborhood of Conley Holler is the opposite of the quiet life Wavie enjoyed with her mother. Wavie learns that Samantha Rose has taken her in for the sole purpose of frivolously spending Wavie's mother's social security checks. Wavie immediately knows: she can't stay in Conley Holler—known to the locals as Convict Holler—a second longer. With help from her new friends, the rough-and-tumble Gilbert and the super-student Camille, Wavie discovers a secret her mother kept from her…one that might rescue her from Samantha Rose's clutches. This is a masterpiece of middle grade fiction, at once summoning the timelessness of life in rural America while blending in modern elements, such as cell phones, Wal-Mart, and the Internet.”  Kirkus gave it a starred review, apparently not stunned by the idea that Wal-Mart, the Internet and cell phones have penetrated Eastern Kentucky hollers. “Wavie has a delightfully memorable first-person voice that includes pithy observations, such as "If the [war on poverty] was over, my new neighborhood was proof we'd lost." She's so engaged with the people around her that her perceptions breathe full life into a range of characters, from the school principal who high-fives students (while secretly checking for lice) to an elderly, confused ex-lawyer grieving for his beloved lost son. A moving and richly engaging tale of despair and redemption.”

New York, New York: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2018. 314 pages. Hardback in dust jacket