Hope in the Holler
Hope in the Holler

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Annotation: In this poignant, funny coming-of-age story, recently orphaned eleven-year-old Wavie Conley must go to live with a scheming aunt in the Kentucky town her mother left behind.
Catalog Number: #160423
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 214 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-399-54631-6 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1172-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-399-54631-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1172-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017033535
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Wavie has spent her first 12 years with her beloved mother in Arpo, Kentucky, sharing a small, tidy trailer. But when Mama dies of cancer and Wavie's next home is uncertain, the brash Samantha Rose, Mama's estranged sister, whisks Wavie away from everything she's ever known to Mama's hometown, the tiny Appalachian Conley (nicknamed Convict) Hollow. With the help of her newfound friends art-as-a-whip Camille and cutup Gilbert vie sets out to find a permanent home for herself as the clock ticks down to the state finalizing her future. Anyone who's spent time in the holler will recognize Conley Hollow, from its ramshackle double-wides to the old graveyard to the creek, all depicted with tenderness. Though Camille and Gilbert are fully realized, some members of Wavie's long-lost family are more thinly drawn, particularly cousin Hoyt. Still, there's much to savor: family secrets, budding friendships, and the never-extinguishing love of a mother for her daughter. A touching sophomore effort in which everyone is kin of one sort or another.
School Library Journal
Gr 58 When her mother passes away from cancer, middle-schooler Wavie B. Conley comes under the care of Samantha Rose, the cruel aunt she's never met. Samantha Rose and Wavie's extended family are crude, verbally abusive slobs, and their run-down Kentucky neighborhood of Conley Holler is the opposite of the quiet life Wavie enjoyed with her mother. Wavie learns that Samantha Rose has taken her in for the sole purpose of frivolously spending Wavie's mother's social security checks. Wavie immediately knows: she can't stay in Conley Hollerknown to the locals as Convict Hollera second longer. With help from her new friends, the rough-and-tumble Gilbert and the super-student Camille, Wavie discovers a secret her mother kept from herone that might rescue her from Samantha Rose's clutches. This is a masterpiece of middle grade fiction, at once summoning the timelessness of life in rural America while blending in modern elements, such as cell phones, Wal-Mart, and the Internet. Wavie's sincere narration and upbeat optimism carry her through the dark mysteries surrounding Conley Holler, and her close friendships with Gilbert and Camille are reminiscent of the young leads in J.K. Rowling's wizarding novels. Meanwhile, Samantha Rose is a devious villain worthy of a Roald Dahl novel. Though the book's conclusion is both satisfying and hopeful, the genuine nastiness Samantha Rose inflicts upon Wavie along the way may not sit well with more sensitive readers. VERDICT With well-written prose, a masterfully realized world, and characters that linger long after the novel closes, this is a must-purchase for any middle grade library collection. Matisse Mozer, County of Los Angeles Public Library
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
There isn't much of anything but crushing poverty in the holler, making hope hard to sustain.Wavie hasn't even left the cemetery where her mother's funeral was held before a stranger, her ignorant and mean aunt, Samantha Rose, shows up to take the grieving 12-year-old back to the family home in Conley Holler. That house, "a whole new level of despair," turns out to be more hovel than home, part of the reason Wavie's mom turned her back on it years ago. It's quickly obvious that Samantha's interest is motivated by Wavie's Social Security check—not affection or family ties. Befriended by resilient neighbor kids Gilbert and Camille, Wavie eventually finds a way to achieve the good life that her mom promised her she deserved. Wavie has a delightfully memorable first-person voice that includes pithy observations, such as "If the [war on poverty] was over, my new neighborhood was proof we'd lost." She's so engaged with the people around her that her perceptions breathe full life into a range of characters, from the school principal who high-fives students (while secretly checking for lice) to an elderly, confused ex-lawyer grieving for his beloved lost son. Camille and her Mexican-American family are some of the few people of color in this mostly white, not universally welcoming Kentucky community. If things work out a bit too well for real life, this glimpse of happiness can be forgiven.A moving and richly engaging tale of despair and redemption. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal Starred Review (Thu Feb 01 00:00:00 CST 2018)
ALA Booklist (Thu Feb 01 00:00:00 CST 2018)
Kirkus Reviews
Wilson's Children's Catalog
Word Count: 46,328
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 195328 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.8 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q75238
Lexile: 660L
Guided Reading Level: L
Chapter One

An actual clown conducted my mama's funeral. He didn't wear clown clothes, or greasepaint, but I'd read his biography on the Andro Funeral Home website, which had included his hobby along with the facts that he'd been married for thirteen years and had a son named Angus.
     Mama had been especially tickled. "They ought to change their tagline to We Put the 'Fun' in Funerals!"
     "Sounds like your funeral will be a real three-ring circus," I said.
     "Write it down, Wavie," she'd answered. "I want my pallbearers to ride in on unicycles." When she laughed, I giggled along with her even though I didn't find planning the funeral one bit funny. But when your mama is practically face-to-face with the Grim Reaper, you do what you can.
     It had been Mama's idea, fueled by our long hours waiting in hospital rooms and the need to find something else to think about: to take words and see how many new ones we could make out of the letters. "Doesn't cost but two cents' of graphite, Wavie. Try it!"
     There are all sorts of words to make out of F-U-N-E-R-A-L. FUN, of course, and LUNAR, LEAF and EARFUL. There were ninety-six if you counted words that people use for Scrabble but aren't really words, like NU and ER. My favorite was UNREAL. That's a perfect word to describe the day you lay your mama to rest.
     In the end, there hadn't been any unicycles, or even pallbearers for that matter. Mama had left instructions to be cremated with only a small graveside service for the burial of her ashes, conducted by the part-time clown.
     I slipped my hand into the pocket of my dress and felt the corner of the Andro Hospital stationery with the list Mama had made for me. I'd memorized it, but I liked being able to look at her handwriting.
     It was seven final instructions.

          1.   Use Andro's. A man that moonlights as a clown and names his son after a steak sounds like someone I'd like to know.
          2.   I left a cutting from our peony bush in a pot by the front door. Peonies are fickle, so don't plant it until you're sure you're staying put somewhere. It was from my mama's plant and she grew the prettiest peonies in Kentucky. You can look at it and know I'm with you in spirit.
           3.   The chaplain said since I'm a believer, you and I would meet in heaven if you act right. I told him if it depended on how we acted, it'd be a right lonely place. Just 'cause someone's in charge don't mean they're smart. Think for yourself. Also, be good. It doesn't hurt to cover all your bases.
          4.   No dropping out of school! I'm banking on you being the first Conley to ever go to college. U-N-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y even has some fine words in it like NURSE and VET!
          5.   Cry when you need to but don't dwell. It won't bring me back and you've got to get on with living.
          6.   Be brave, Wavie B.! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it!
          7.   Never, ever forget that I loved being your mama more than anything in this big, wide world.

     She'd signed it xoxo, Mama.
     I'd already heard most everything on the list, except the part about my grandmother's peonies. Mama hardly ever talked about her family and she hadn't gone back to her hometown since my grandmother died. I parted ways with the rest of them right after you were born and as far as I'm concerned it was a good trade. It's just you and me, Wavie, against the world. Sounds like a fair fight to me!
     My eyes stung and the cemetery blurred. Now it was just me. Wavie against the world didn't have the same ring to it. I blinked twice, willing the tears back into my eyeballs. If I started crying now, I was afraid I'd never stop, and making a scene at Mama's graveside service would really have the neighbors at Castle Fields Mobile Home Park talking.
     I focused on the weather instead. The man on TV had said to expect spring showers, but so far the rain had held off. The wind was starting to pick up, though, and had blown a fistful of dirt from the mound by Mama's urn across the scuffed dress shoes of my best friend, Hannah, and the black slip-ons of her granny Mrs. Watkins.
     There was only a small cluster of folks attending, mostly neighbors from our mobile home park, but I spotted a few other faces in the back--Mrs. Leslie, Mama's old boss from Walmart; a nurse from the oncology floor; my math teacher, Mr. Stephens; and a few classmates. Everyone wore black, and we stood there hunched against the cold breeze like crows on a wire trying to decide where to fly next.
     A beat-up sedan drove through the gates and parked down the hill, its brakes squeaking. Two people sat inside watching us, but they didn't get out. It wasn't a friendly-looking car. Mama said you can't judge a book by its cover, but I think sometimes you can. I mean, one look at Harry Potter and I knew it was going to be about magic. That B-U-I-C-K (BUCK, ICK) car was dented and banged up like it was mad at the world and ready to run down whatever got in its way.
     My caseworker, Mrs. Chipman, patted my shoulder as the funeral director placed the biodegradable urn into a small hole in front of a plaque that read simply, Ronelda May Conley, Beloved Mother. A few people came up and hugged me, muttering things like, "She was a fine woman," and "She'll be missed," until Mrs. Chipman nodded that I could go and sit in her car.
     I could feel the stares of the people as they walked by, and could imagine their conversations as they got into their cars. Poor kid. Orphaned at eleven, how pitiful. I leaned my head forward until it hit my knees, and closed my eyes.
     Someone tapped softly on the glass. "Wavie, are you all right?"
     I sat back up and rolled down the window.
    "Hey, Hannah." I put my hand out the window and laced my fingers through hers.
     She wiped her eyes with her free hand. "I am so, so sorry."
     I nodded.
     Hannah dug an envelope out of her pocket and handed it through the window. "The trailer park took up a collection. It's not much, but hopefully it'll help."
     The envelope was heavy and I could feel an abundance of change. It was all I could do to choke out an answer. "Tell everybody I said thanks."
     Hannah gave me a final sad smile and turned to leave.
     The driver's side door opened and Mrs. Chipman settled into the front seat. Then she reached back and rubbed my shoulder. "You ready?"
     I looked once more toward the grave site. "Yes."
     Everyone was gone except for the old car I'd noticed earlier. As we moved to pass it, the driver held up a hand for us to stop. We watched as a woman with long, frizzy blond hair got out and walked toward us. A grumpy-looking teenager stayed in the car, slumped against the window.
     "Why is that woman dressed like a cat?" I asked.
     "That's called leopard print," Mrs. Chipman said.
     Leopard Lady was top-heavy, with broad shoulders and skinny legs. She wore leopard-print leggings under a leopard-print sweater.
     When she got to the car, she motioned for Mrs. Chipman to open the window, then bent down and stared into the backseat.
     "Wavie? Wavie Conley? Is that you?"
     I leaned back against the seat. "Yes?"
     "Why, I'm your aunt, Samantha Rose! I've come to take care of you."
     See. UNREAL.

Excerpted from Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

* "This is a masterpiece of middle grade fiction, at once summoning the timelessness of life in rural America while blending in modern elements."--School Library Journal, starred review

The poignant--and funny--story of a girl trying to be brave and find her place in the world after she's sent to live with scheming relatives.


Right before Wavie's mother died, she gave Wavie a list of instructions to help her find her way in life, including this one: Be brave, Wavie B! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it! But little did Wavie's mom know that events would conspire to bring Wavie back to Conley Hollow, the Appalachian hometown her mother tried to leave behind. Now Wavie's back in the Holler--and in the clutches of her Aunt Samantha Rose. Life with the devilish Samantha Rose and her revolting cousin Hoyt is no picnic, but there's real pleasure in sleeping in her own mother's old bed, and making friends with the funny, easygoing kids her aunt calls the "neighborhood-no-accounts." With their help, Wavie just might be able to prevent her aunt from becoming her legal guardian, and find her courage and place in the world.


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