by Jayne Pupek (author)
Publisher: Algonquin Books (August 26, 2008)
Language: English / ISBN-10: 1565124723 / ISBN-13: 978-1565124721
For eleven year Elle Sanders lives a relatively happy life with her beloved father and troubled mother, Julia. Julia would probably fit the definition of bipolar today and medication would be available but during the mid 20th century, this was a hidden disease. Elle watches as her father closely protects her mother, restraining her during her wilder outbursts and shielding her from the curious and fearful eyes of neighbors. Elle lives her young life being calm and compliant for her mother.
This life changes suddenly and frighteningly for Elle the day her mother falls and Tess, the tomato girl moves into her home to help care for her and her mother. As far as Elle was concerned, Tess was just the girl that brought tomatoes into her father's store to sell. She soon learns that Tess is much more than that to her father.
This is a story of a girl's childhood ripped from her clutching hands by the father she loves and his self-centered teenage mistress. Elle narrates her story honestly but retaining the childlike desperation of unquenchable hope for a happily-ever-after ending. This is a wonderful novel. Murder, mental illness, superstition, abuse, intolerance, prejudice, lust, love, cruelty and sadness are just some of the themes covered in this story. This story touched me deeply.