Emma Starkey is a spunky little girl trying hard to be charitable and virtuous. But her calculated attempts have a way of backfiring with tumultuous consequences in Douglas Armstrong’s poignant story of small-town life in 1920s Kansas. As Emma’s grandmother wryly observes, “Even sunflowers cast shadows.”
Weaving through four years of Emma’s engaging disasters is a chaotic friendship with a transplanted Yankee whiz kid, Margaret Drummond, whose family arrives one summer burdened with a heavy secret and a flair for the dramatic. As Emma’s and Margaret’s brothers and sisters become friends, too, their lively pursuits and youthful infatuations begin to spawn rivalries that threaten to split them apart. In the end, perilous, even tragic turns await.
This novel, named the best by a Wisconsin author in 2010 (Council for Wisconsin Writers), recaptures a faded moment in time when innocence could still be lost grudgingly.

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