cover image Comfort Creek

Comfort Creek

Joyce McDonald. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32232-4

Quinn's life could be a bad country music song-Mama left town, Daddy lost his job, they're living in a swamp, and if it weren't for bad luck they'd have no luck at all. This story of family crisis in a dying Florida mining town suffers from two problems: it's an adult-driven plot in which the main character, 11-year-old Quinn, is a reactor rather than protagonist, and the book has a 1950s sensibility despite its contemporary setting. In the opening chapter, Quinn and her sister Rhonda Fay ride on the front porch of their house as it is moved out of town on a flatbed to the backwoods. When Pa-Daddy loses his job in the mines and the family is plunged into abject poverty, deprived of electricity and plumbing, the clan bemoans their bad fortune but nobody thinks of tracking down Quinn's deadbeat country-music singer mom. Amid the turmoil, Quinn's grandmother Nanny Jo talks soothingly of an imaginary place, Comfort Creek, where everything is calm, but Quinn cannot begin to imagine it amid the chaos of her own life. By the time a solution comes along, readers may find their patience with the travails of Nanny Jo, Pa-Daddy, Rhonda Fay and Quinn has worn as thin as the family heirloom quilt. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)