cover image Return to Bitter Creek

Return to Bitter Creek

Doris Buchanan Smith. Viking Children's Books, $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-670-80783-3

Twelve-year-old Lacey Bittner returns to Bitter Creek, in the mountains of North Carolina, to a family she doesn't remember. Lacey's mother, Campbell, has agreed to go back to her native home with her lover, David, who has gotten a job at the Mountain Crafts School. But Campbell is unwilling to forget the hurts of the past. Neither is her mother, Eva, the matriarch of the family. Lacey is just as stubborn as her mother and grandmother, though, and learns to stick up for herself when necessary, as well as to give in with grace. The girl settles into her new home, despite misunderstandings between herself and her cousin Tam. But her newfound serenity is shattered when David is killed in an auto accident and Campbell succumbs to grief. Unable to pay the rent, they move into David's barn/workshop. Thanks to Lacey's initiative, their half-completed cabin is finished, as well as a blacksmithing commission that David was working on. At a big family dinner, Eva gives Campbell a commemorative quilt, symbolizing their reunited family. The author of The First Hard Times et al. has created a moving portrait of an adolescent's groping toward maturity and responsibility. Familial relationships, with all their vagaries, are presented in a sympathetic, nonjudgmental manner. (812)