Twins Florida and Dallas Carter have been at the Boxton Creek Home longer than any of the other kids – for their whole lives, just about, unless you count all those lovely, lovely people who took them home. And brought them right back.
Because Florida and Dallas should know all the rules of the Home, having been there longer than any of the other kids, you’d think they’d be able to stay out of the punishment cellar, which is full of spiders and dust. But there are so many rules, and sometimes feet want to run and voices need to shout. All they really want to do is get on the night train that comes through Boxton. Just leave.
When Florida and Dallas get summoned to Mr Trepid’s office, they just know this is going to be another horrible experience. These two old people are going to make them dig wells or something. But Sairie and Tiller Morey aren’t like the other foster parents, and Ruby Holler isn’t like anywhere else they’ve ever been – it’s green, and fragrant, and there’s always enough food. Florida and Dallas are as prone to making stupid mistakes as they ever were, and even though the Morey’s don’t seem to be punishing people, you never can be sure.
This instant children’s classic beautifully captures the personalities of all the main characters, the contrast between Before and After, the petty frustrations of the Home’s ‘care givers’, and the transformative effect of love and trust. It would have been easy for Creech to make this unrealistic and saccharine, and to a degree the plot’s predictable enough. But Sairie and Tiller are delightful, Tiller’s far from perfect, and they harmonise beautifully with the children’s characters. This was a heart-warming and up-lifting novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. - Alex