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Matthews, Kezi. Scorpio's child.

Cricket Books. 152p. c2001. 0-8126-2890-X. $15.95. J

In the summer of 1947, in small-town Gillford, South Carolina, 14-year-old Afton is still mourning the wartime death of her beloved older brother. When her "strange, squinty-eyed" Uncle Bailey, a relative Alton has never even heard of, arrives to stay in her brother's room, Alton is hostile and wary. Her mother says that Bailey has "been through an ordeal and to just make him welcome without a lot of silly questions"--but not to mention Bailey to Alton's father, away at sea. Afton, of course, sets out to learn the truth about Bailey, but she has other issues on her mind as well: a new girl has set her sights on the boy Afton fancies, while the plight of a neglected child tugs at Alton's heartstrings. The suspicious death of the child's mother brings many secrets to light, and Alton comes close to bringing more tragedy into the life of Bailey, who is trying to hide the shame of being an ex-con--but she is also responsible for proving his innocence in this death. This beautifully written coming-of-age tale, by the award-winning author of John Riley's Daughter, has some of the Southern flavor and small-town atmosphere of To Kilt a Mockingbird, and the characters are well drawn. Afton's curiosity and persistence are admirable and believable, and her emotional trials are sensitively rendered. Readers will quickly become wrapped up in the mystery of Bailey's past and Afton's attempts to uncover the truth. Paula Rohrlick, KLIATT
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Rohrlick, Paula
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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