cover image Shadows of Pecan Hallow

Shadows of Pecan Hallow

Caroline Frost. Morrow, $27.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-306534-5

Frost debuts with the captivating if messy story of a woman who comes of age amid a life of crime. At 13, foster child Kit Walker meets Manny Romero at a Texas gas station. Manny grooms her as an accomplice for thefts and eventually armed robbery, and when Kit is 19 Manny gets her pregnant. He wants Kit to have an abortion, but she breaks away from him, carving out a hardscrabble life for herself and her daughter, Charlie, in the small town of Pecan Hollow. Fourteen years later, Manny, fresh from prison and claiming to be reformed, tracks her down. The author does a bang-up job fleshing out Kit’s young life, creating the perfect storm of circumstances—feeling abandoned and undeserving of love as she is shuffled from one foster family to the next—for her to trust a stranger who treats her with a kindness she’s never known. Once Manny comes back, however, the story goes a bit off the rails, as Manny charms the residents of Pecan Hollow, including the teenage Charlie, and Kit worries Manny will take Charlie away from her. Much melodrama ensues, including some gratuitous violence. Nevertheless, Frost offers plenty of punchy lines (on Manny: “His careful calm gave way to a bulldozing rage”). It’s uneven, but there’s promise here. Agent: Elizabeth Winnick, McIntosh & Otis. (Feb.)