The beginning of summer vacation finds thirteen-year-old farm girl Blake Jensen managing acres of grief from a baby brother’s accidental drowning and Dad’s recent incarceration for drugs. When she chases trespassers off the property, she stumbles onto $8K Dad hid before going to prison. With strangers still creeping the farm, Blake must confront Dad to protect her mom and brother, and maybe begin patching the holes in her heart. For readers of SUMMERLOST + THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH.
Things die on a farm all the time. If you live in western Nebraska, you understood that. You knew things were supposed to die. Things like old hens, picked corn plants, and mosquitos after the first freeze. But not baby brothers.
Charlie was almost two when he drowned in the horse-tank. This morning, Charlie’s favorite hen Gretchen was dead too.
Blake eased her shovel underneath Gretchen’s stiff body, careful not to ruffle feathers. She’d like to think they were together again, Charlie and Gretchen. She could almost see Charlie now, hugging Gretchen tight and toddling around in his red cowboy boots.
As the metal blade slid along the dry dirt with a grinding screech, Blake winced and hefted the load. Surely, she was the only thirteen-year-old in the county stuck with dead hen burial duty this morning. She glared across the gravel driveway at the tank underneath the wooden plank fence. Empty of water now, flowers peeked over its cold steel rim, over bullet holes Dad’s .357 magnum had made after Charlie’s funeral three years ago.
That tank had to go.