"Dragging my book bag down Quince Road on my way back from school, I couldn't help wondering what I might find once I got home. The things in our house were shifting under the hands of Papa's new wife, Lara. I'd go to bed knowing everything in the parlor was snug in its place, then come morning, I'd head downstairs only to discover that the room had changed identities while I slept."
Ever since Nissa Bergen's father Ivar remarried, Nissa has felt like a stranger in her own home, clinging to her memories of her free-spirited mother, Heirah Rae, who moved to Chicago to escape the conformity of small-town Louisiana. To make matters worse, sheÂ¹s not ready for the physical changes that are happening to her. So when Heirah asks Nissa to stay with her for a while, Nissa decides it's time for a change.
But Heirah's life in Chicago painting sets for a theater is overwhelming to Nissa, and she misses her home and father in Harper. Slowly, Nissa realizes that she has to stop living for her mother and start living for herself. Ivar and Lara's visit convinces her that home is in Harper. And after a revelation in the Chicago library, Nissa discovers a way for her to stake her independence and find her place in her family and her life.
About this sequel to The Year of the Sawdust Man, in which Nissa attempts to preserve her memories of her mother in a new setting, PW wrote, "LaFaye surpasses the lyricism and emotional depth of her sparkling debut."
In this sequel to The Year of the Sawdust Man, Nissa, soon to be 13, is determined to keep her new stepmother from changing things in their home. It is one way to hold on to her artistic, wandering, unreliable mother. It is also a way of holding on to her pride in a highly critical, small-minded, gossipy Louisiana town. In her usual, dramatic, surprising way, Nissa's mother enters via the bedroom window to paint a night sky in her daughter's room as a birthday gift and... School Library Journal