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Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel

Review

Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel

In this novel, which won the coveted Ann Durrell Fiction Contest (Dutton Children's Books' contest for new writers of middle-grade fiction), Evangeline "Eddie" Brown lives in poverty with her beer-sodden father. Their home is the rarely frequented Cadillac Motel, decorated with the butt-end of a pink Cadillac. Eddie has lived in Paradise since she was born. The motel is in sad shape and so is Eddie's Pa, who has never recovered from her mother's death when Eddie was five. Ruby, the motel maid, functions somewhat as a mom substitute. Eddie is friendless and teased unmercifully at school.

Eddie meets Farrell, the son of one of Pa's drinking buddies. The two connect through their mutual love of basketball. Eddie is troubled by Farrell's secrets. Why is he afraid of enclosed spaces? Where is the place he lived when his mother died? When school starts, they strike a deal: Eddie will help Farrell with his schoolwork in exchange for fighting lessons. Farrell and Eddie combine their talents to solve problems. Their solutions sometimes result in triumph but also lead them into danger.

Along with her new friend, Eddie also has a new teacher. Instead of cranky old Mrs. Thornton, the class has pretty, sweet Miss Rose. Her new teacher drops a bombshell: she plans to visit each student's home. Eddie is awash in shame and fear at the thought of her lovely teacher in the trashed-out motel meeting her drunken father. She is desperate to prevent that scenario.

This is a poignant book with fresh, surprising characters (I love Eddie's attitude!) and a lively but thoughtful plot. It's both heartbreaking and heartwarming but never slips into sentimentality. Although I thought that perhaps the situation with Eddie's father was resolved just a bit too easily, this is a minor quibble with such a wonderful novel. Indeed, I simply cannot wait to read many more books by talented newcomer Michele Ivy Davis.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on May 11, 2004

Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel
by Michele Ivy Davis

  • Publication Date: May 11, 2004
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
  • ISBN-10: 0525472215
  • ISBN-13: 9780525472216