The story takes place in 1936,during the middle of the great depression. The three main characters, are 12yr old Otis, Willie and Hibernia. At the beginning the three have yet to meet. All of them are fans of Joe Louis. The author enterwines some of the fights throughout the story. With so much going wrong the great fighter gives the three someone to hope and believe in.
Hibernia lives with her father a reverend. Her mother left to follow her dream to sing at the Savoy. Willie is forced to leave home after a terrible incident with his abusive father. Soon Otis must go live at Mercy Home For Negro Orphans as well. That's where the two meet.
The chapters alternate between the three characters. Sometimes this can be tricky, especially when dealing with more then two characters. The author runs the risk of not developing the characters or storylines enough. After one characters scene would end, I'd still have questions. When the story returned to that particular character, it was already onto something new.
After the last awful encounter with his father, Willie goes to live at Mercy. When he arrives Lily, the woman working there, tells him he needs some salve. The next time Willie appears there's drastic change without an explanation. The salve didn't work. This happens more then once. It felt like I was missing important parts of the story. Hibernia's father is set in his ways and very strict. Yet one day he simply decides to open up and talk about Hibernia's mother. Again, I wondered about the why of this.
The characters voices were blending together. I think part of it had to do with the short chapters, but I had a difficult time distinguishing between Otis and Willie.
Pinkney has a great body of work. All the books I've read by her I've loved. I went into Bird in a Box (a book I was really looking forward to ) wondering not if but how much I would enjoy it. So I was surprised, that it simply didn't work for me.