When browsing for something to listen to I picked up "The Good Dream" by Donna VanLiere. When I flipped the CD book over I read that the author was the reader; normally this is a turnoff because you can write or you can read, but not both. Nevertheless, VanLiere's voice was super and her slight southern accent made the book come alive as it is set in Tennessee in the 1950's.
The main character is Sarah Ivorie Walker. Ivorie is a single thirty-something, employed at the local elementary school, and lives in her deceased parents' house with her dog. Ivorie is keeping herself busy during summer vacation growing a garden, canning vegetables, and picking berries to make jam and jelly. She takes milk and eggs into town to her brother Henry's store to sell daily, and in the evenings she shares her dinner with her dog.
Life is good until she notices that something has broken the stem on a tomato plant and some tomatoes have been knocked off the vine. Next day she notices more disarray in the garden and decides she has an animal cruising through at night. Ivorie goes to Henry's to borrow a trap and sets it. She can't find it the next morning so a neighbor lends her a bigger trap. Ivorie wakes that night to hear the dog barking and she slips quietly to the back door, to see something in her garden in the moonlight. After carefully watching, it appears to be a young boy.
Ivorie invites him to the porch and shares her supper with him and the boy wolfs the food down. She realizes he is not from around town and that he is very dirty and unkempt. The boy starts to come every evening and eat on the porch, playing with the dog and going back into the hills, never speaking. Ivorie decides after several visits to give him a bath, a haircut, and a new pair of overalls. Thus begins Ivorie's involvement in his life; the realization of how opinionated small town individuals can be; and what is really important.
Recommended by Linda Krauss