It's October 1942, and the Stout family--Ann, Joe, and their young son, Little Joe--are on their way to visit Ann's family before Joe, an Army pilot, takes up his new assignment in Indiana. There's a storm and the road conditions are terrible, though, and when a tire blows out, Little Joe is the only survivor of the resulting accident.
The loss of his parents, the abrupt transition from life in urban Texas to life in rural Tennessee, and the shock knowing the animals he's eating for dinner on his grandparents' farm, are all hard on Little Joe. Daddy and Mother Washington--Persifor and Frances--are strong, loving, and understanding, though, and work to give him a sense of security and a grounding in values that will last him a lifetime.
Because World War II is under way, they deal with rationing, with troops moving into the area for training and maneuvers, and getting word of the deaths of young men they know.
Young parents today may be shocked at the degree of risk and danger that was a normal part of growing up prior to about a generation ago. What kind of childhood is it, when you don't get a chance to blow something up?
Because it's the 1940s, Little Joe encounters the effects of Jim Crow on the family of a man who works for his grandfather, and the first stirrings of the Civil Rights movement, and his grandmother's calm but firm rejection of the racism around them.
An excellent and moving story, and a glimpse into an important part of our past. Highly recommended.
I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.