cover image Little Audrey

Little Audrey

Ruth White, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16 (145pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34580-8

White recrosses autobiographical territory first covered in Sweet Creek Holler , this time through the perspective of her oldest sister, sixth-grade Audrey, who narrates. The family is eking out a hand-to-mouth existence in a coal mining camp; Daddy spends his meager pay on liquor instead of food; Mommy is stoic but often emotionally absent, mourning the death in infancy, four years earlier, of the family's fifth daughter. Longing for a better life, Audrey has recently overcome scarlet fever, which has left her painfully thin and vulnerable to taunts. She has honest disdain for her bothersome sisters—the three little pigs, she calls them—and total admiration for her teacher. Gritty details and hill-country vernacular skillfully evoke a sad, hardscrabble life. The story is stronger in delineating character and setting than it is in narrative development, and its most lasting appeal may lie in the insights it provides into White's other books. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)