Mrs. Creasy has disappeared, and the neighborhood is worried. Ten-year-old Gracie and her best friend Tilly decide that if they find God, he will help them find Mrs. Creasy. The neighbors are concerned because nine years ago, some of them did a horrible thing. People talk to Mrs. Creasy, and they are afraid she has found out.
Walter Bishop is the neighborhood outcast. The neighbors have wanted to drive Walter out of the neighborhood since they decided he did something wrong. As the novel alternates between following Gracie and the other neighbors, we finally learn what happened nine years before.
Although I was interested enough in this novel to finish it, I had some problems with it. The first was with the portions that Gracie narrates in first person. Some of these sections do not sound like a ten-year-old. Although at times the two girls are convincingly naive, sometimes Gracie shows a sense of irony that a ten-year-old wouldn’t have. I have taught college level, and trust me, even most college freshmen don’t understand irony. There is an interesting discussion of the problems of using child narrators in this issue of Tea or Books? I also found it unlikely that Gracie, who comes from a family that is not at all religious, would suddenly decide that God is the answer.
I felt at times that I was being clubbed over the head with the novel’s message and at other times manipulated, as the characters’ secrets are revealed. I like the idea behind this novel, about what happens when a man is persecuted because he is a little odd, but I had some problems with its execution. So, this one is a maybe for me.