Winner of the 2019 New Hampshire Writers' Project Readers' Choice Award for Fiction
With callused hands and a parched palate, nine-year-old Rusty Travis spends his summers with his older brother in their father's tobacco field, harvesting the crop that pays for the trailer they reluctantly call home. The years of abuse and neglect have worn them thin, and they're pushed to the brink when their father – in another one of his drunken rages – does the unthinkable.
Balancing the line between doing what's right versus what they know is wrong is only part of the internal struggle that ensues. The surrounding forest, while presenting its own problems, offers a canopy under which the brothers seek solace. But nothing comes easily in the wilderness, and when they stumble upon a mysterious runaway orphan, the truth about Rusty's life begins to reveal itself. Secrets are uncovered about himself and the people closest to him, leading Rusty to question everything he thought he knew.
Rusty comes of age in the forest of Plum Springs, Kentucky and beyond, where he learns about the harshness of life, and also its beauty. With his brother at his side, he explores amid the towering oak trees for happiness, love, and acceptance, and finds what he seeks in the unlikeliest of places.
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