Proving that the heavily mined "child and elderly neighbor change each other's lives" premise isn't completely dry, Crocker's sturdy debut explores the deep and subtle reaches of a friendship that blooms between 11-year-old Billie and her across-the-road neighbor Miss Lydia. Set in a small town several generations ago, this is anchored by three pivotal actsone driven by hate, one by love, and one a complex combination of the two.The story covers five years of Billie's struggles to get out from under the thumb of her spiteful, abusive mother, and Lydia's efforts to erase the guilt of two terrible secrets as, with agonizing slowness, her aging body fails. Crocker skillfully lays out the heart-deep regard that develops between these two perceptive, spirited females (Lydia is occasionally given to hilariously salty language) as life throws them severe challenges that they weather with each other's help. In Billie, the author creates a narrator whose credible mix of naïveté, resilience, and uncertain but budding sense of self-respect that will speak to young readers. This easily transcends its familiar themes and locale. Peters, John
About the Author
is a native of Missouri who started her career as a singer and appeared with Loretta Lynn at age thirteen. She graduated from Columbia College and since then has been acting and writing. Her work has appeared in the American Heritage Anthology,
and she is the author of the picture book Betty Lou Blue,
published by Dial. This is her first novel. Nancy lives with her husband and son near a lake in Minneapolis, where they enjoy fishing. You can visit Nancy at www.nancycrocker.com.