Hallapoosa

Robert Newton Peck, Author
Robert Newton Peck, Author Walker & Company $16.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1016-1
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Hallapoosa is an impoverished southern Florida town where 12-year-old Thane MacHugh and his sister Alma Lee, seven, newly orphaned, are sent in 1931 to live with their father's elderly brother Hiram, a gentlemanly bachelor who is also the town's justice of the peace. Peck (The Day No Pigs Would Die) saves his new novel from unbridled sweetness with a series of ingenious plot twists and a number of razor-sharp characters. One of these is Vestavia, the aging but still authoritarian black housekeeper who is determined to raise the bereft children in the same strict manner she brought up their father and uncle. Vestavia's close friend (a well-guarded secret in the strictly segregated community) is Miss Sellie Fulsom, the elderly, keen-eyed next-door neighbor whose memory holds most of the town's deepest secrets. Charlie Moon Sky, a canny half-breed Seminole, keeps a necessary watch on the newly arrived children, since a clan of brutal and mean-spirited bootleggers plan to kidnap Alma Lee and sell her into white slavery as part of their scheme to avenge themselves on the MacHugh family for past wrongs. Alma Lee's eventual rescue involves most of the townspeople and some mysterious prisoners from the Hallapoosa jail, a combination that solves a group of knotty problems and ties up all loose strands in an agreeably surprising way. (May)
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