|Author:||Phyllis Reynolds Naylor|
Ellen had never been out of the low hill country of northeastern Mississippi. Since the death of her mother many years before, and the death of her younger brother only a year or so earlier, she and her father had shared their cabin and five acres of land alone. Except for Sleet, the horse that-because he feared lightning and thunder-had thrown and killed her brother.
Ellen was terrified of Sleet. It was summer. Ellen’s father’s newest job-he had had many-was as a calendar salesman, so he was gone a great deal of the time. Her only contact with the outside world was through the telephone and news programs on the TV. The family’s nearest neighbor was Granny Bo, an old woman full of stories of days past and dark forebodings about the present and future, which she read from signs and portents she clearly accepted as true. Ellen believed and shared Granny Bo’s fears even when she did not want to.
Then, stirring events in the nearby town, a stranger and his wife living in a nearby abandoned house, a kidnapping, and deeper and deeper questions in Ellen’s mind about everyone she knew-including her father and Granny Bo-conspired to make Ellen face her fears and find her courage, just when it was most needed.