Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Dumpster Girl"

GRACE is another amazing story written by the author of THE CHRISTMAS BOX. For those who have never read anything by Richard Paul Evans, GRACE will not disappoint, and will most likely lead you to read the rest of his works.

Eric's life is far from wonderful. After his father hurt his back, the family packed up everything they owned and moved from California to Utah. Money has dried up in the summer of 1962 and, to survive, his family moves into the house left vacant by the death of his maternal grandmother. The house is falling apart, but they are together and have family nearby to help them.

To help with finances, Eric works at McBurger Queen after school. It's there, while cleaning up after closing, that he discovers a girl "dumpster diving" (sorting through the dumpster for food). He recognizes the girl from one of his classes, but doesn't want to embarrass her. Instead, he invites her inside and offers her the food that would otherwise be discarded.

While she is eating, he learns her name is Grace. She admits she is running away. Eric can't fathom what a girl his age will do to survive. Without thinking of the consequences, he offers up the only place he can think of, the clubhouse in the far corner of his backyard that he built with his younger brother, Joel.

He sets Grace up in the clubhouse with a heating pad for warmth, a flashlight, a transistor radio, and a supply of sleeping bags. As time goes by, the two become friends. He sneaks her food when he can. She sneaks out when it seems safe, and passes her time in the clubhouse with a collection of books from the library.

But her family starts a frantic search for Grace. Announcements are made at school. Flyers are put up around town. And eventually it makes the evening news. Eric is terrified he will be found out and that they will find Grace. He vows to keep her secret. His resolve grows more so when she reveals the reason for running away.

Eric is only fourteen, and the pressure from all sides start to mount. He knows Grace can never be turned over to her family, but what can a teenager do to help her in the end?

Mr. Evans has a way of bringing forth buried feelings. GRACE touches you deep in the spirit and makes you want to be a better person. With the upcoming Christmas season, may we all show a bit of grace to those around us.

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