Born to family of troublemakers, an Ohio boy defiantly carves out his own destiny in “a book that young adults and veteran readers alike are going to love” (Howard Frank Mosher). Jimmy Lee Hickam grew up along Red Dog Road, deep in Appalachian Ohio, in the poorest county in the poorest region of the state. To make things worse, he hails from a mix of thieves, moonshiners, and drunkards who for decades have clung to both the hardscrabble hills and the iron bars of every jail cell in the region. This life, Jimmy Lee believes, is his fate. Someday, he expects to wind up working with his alcoholic father at the sawmill—or sitting next to his arsonist brother in the penitentiary. There aren’t many options if your last name is Hickam.
If not for an inspiring coach and Jimmy Lee’s ability to play football, he would not have returned for his junior year in high school. After his English teacher cuts Jimmy Lee a break, preserving his eligibility for the coming football season, he rewards her with a winning essay in the high school writing contest. And when irate parents and administration claim he must have cheated, his teacher becomes more determined than ever—to take Jimmy Lee’s writing talent as far as it can go, and show him the path out of the hills of Appalachia.
“Like Annie Proulx, Richard Russo, and Richard Ford, Robin Yocum knows how to stake out a claim to a very particular part of America and make it uniquely his own” (Howard Frank Mosher).