With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister—and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clinch his fuel monopoly. To keep him at bay and keep her family out of foster care, Melia must come up with a father—and fast. And so when a hobo rolls out of a passing truck, Melia grabs opportunity by its beard. Can she hold off the hounds till she comes of age?
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"Sublime...Melia is an immediately endearing character, and her wiseacre narration is both droll and affecting.... Lucky Strikes is a near-perfect novel, rich in voice and emotion. Much like Melia herself, it is brash with bravado, barely concealing an inviting layer of warmth at its core."
"With Melia, Bayard skillfully draws a heroine whom readers understand better than she understands herself, without making her aggravatingly obtuse; he then allows her to develop over the course of a book. Add to this an exciting plot about—I kid you not—gas station operations and a wealth of period detail that includes not just the picturesque but the authentic (our favorite characters smoke like chimneys), and what we get is a novel that is narratively gripping, emotionally astute and deeply enjoyable."
"This is a darn good yarn with plenty of room for rooting and more than a few laughs."
"The sparkling upper-middle-grade debut from adult fiction writer Bayard...Told in Melia's brisk voice, with fast pacing and a strong cast of characters (all white, reflecting the demographic of the setting), the story hurtles to a surprising, honest conclusion—the 'you' addressed in the first line is a tender surprise."
"Featuring a heroine as pragmatic and resourceful as Mary Call from Where the Lilies Bloom, adult author Bayard's (Roosevelt's Beast) poignant Depression-era novel traces the struggles of 14-year-old Melia Hoyle and her siblings after their mother's death...this period novel evokes the stoicism of mountain people and the ways neighbors help each other during hard times."