Her unconventional parents and grandparents are all compelling characters in their own right. Os dearly loved father, Pops, is a trucker who is gone from home a lot, but O always wears Pops hat, like a talisman. Pops believes in nature, watching the stars in the night sky, and his family. Os mother is a singer, also gone for long stretches of time. And so it is Os Gran who stays with her consistently and raises both M and O as if they were her own daughters. I was drawn into this family so quickly, and especially touched by Grans compassion and her fierce, life-giving love. During moments of raw emotion, when O cannot break out of her own haunted thoughts and feelings, her family is there for her, coaxing her back from the edge. I found all the characters to be very real and believable.
Although the novel grips you with a harrowing beginning and it never shrinks from the harshest aspects of life, it is basically a tale about love and courage, told in language that is direct, forceful, and as beautiful as poetry. It is also a story within a story. Interwoven, in brief segments that shine like small jewels, is the story of the flowering of love within the heart of a runaway slave, Hannah, and her courage in the face of overwhelming odds. The story of Hannah and the occasional sightings of Hannahs ghost create a rich layer to this fascinating novel.