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Easton, Kelly. Walking on air.

Simon & Schuster, 233p, c2004. 0-689-84875-7. $16.95, J

Easton, author of The Life History of a Star, gives us the story of an amazingly precocious 12-year-old girl who is living an unusual life. It is 1931, and the economy is terrible in the US during the Great Depression as June and her parents, with a non-speaking hired man, Rhett, travel around trying to get some money together by holding revival meetings. Pa is the preacher, but June is the highlight, because she "walks on air" on a tightrope, drawing the attention of the audience. There is never much money and Pa is bitter and angry. June has her own understanding of God, and much of her narrative is a telling of the Bible stories that strike her fancy. She is mostly fascinated by how much jealousy and deception are in the stories--from Cain murdering his brother, to Jacob and Rebecca deceiving Isaac to steal Esau's birthright, to the "greatest deception" of all, Judas betraying Jesus. June returns frequently to the Bible stories, because she hasn't gone to school and the Bible is her main resource for learning about the world. Readers who are familiar with the stories will get a better understanding of June and the way her mind works than readers who don't know what she is talking about.

This struggling little family, dysfunctional to say the least, has its happy times, especially when Pa is put into jail for six months or so, and June and her Ma and the quiet Rhett rent an old house, June is able to attend school and make some friends. As soon as Pa gets out, however, he restlessly wants them to move on. When Ma gets very ill, she confides in June that Rhett is her real father, that she deceived Pa when they married and he believes that June is his daughter. Later they are separated, with Ma put into a convent's hospice to recuperate from what seems to be tuberculoses, and June is in an orphanage on the edge of a red-light district. One day she is rescued. The silent Rhett now has the courage to claim her as his own child and takes her to live in Providence, Rhode Island, with his mother, June's grandmother. Finally, June will be nurtured and allowed to learn and use her fine mind. And instead of having to listen to endless diatribes about an angry, judgmental God, June is now able to "find God in my grandma's smile or in Rhett's voice." A quirky, unusual story about a memorable girl. Claire Rosser, KLIATT
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Rosser, Claire
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Words:431
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