Historical YA Fiction
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
July 5, 2016
Goodreads First Reads Win
April 23 - May 19, 2023
Set in Depression-era Virginia, this is the story of orphaned Amelia and her struggle to keep her siblings together.
With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, fourteen-year-old Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister, and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clinch his fuel monopoly. To keep him at bay and her family out of foster care, Melia must come up with a father, and fast. And so when a hobo rolls out of a passing truck, Melia grabs opportunity by its beard. Can she hold off the hounds till she comes of age?
I hated this book when I started it. H.A.T.E.D. It was boring, the dialect was annoying, and I was just not engaged. But I kept reading. I won a copy of this book years ago from a Goodreads giveaway, so I felt an obligation to give it a fair shot. And then… somehow… by the end of the book…. Dangit, I kinda liked it!
It’s 1934 when 14-year-old Melia’s mother dies, leaving her and her younger brother and sister orphans. Fear of being torn apart and thrown into foster care, Melia does the only thing she can think of. She takes in a vagabond and tells everyone he’s her father. The man, Hiram, agrees to play along, in exchange for a roof over his head and whatever food the orphans can spare to to feed him.
Meanwhile, Harley Blevins, the owner of all of the gas stations around town is circling like a shark. Because without Melia’s mother around, Brenda’s Oasis, the gas station she owned, is ripe for the picking. But Melia won’t give up that easily. That gas station is her mothers legacy and the only thing she and her siblings have.
For a long time this book felt pointless. It wasn’t until the end when everything came to a head. Suddenly I couldn’t stop after just one chapter, I had to know what was going to happen next. Honestly, if you pick up this book, read it for the ending. It’s full of a lot of feelings and in the end, every piece of it that felt pointless, suddenly made sense.
This would be a great book for young adults who are learning about the Great Depression, as it paints a picture of what life was like for some.
3.5 Stars, rounded down to 3 because the beginning was so boring!