Title: Greetings from Nowhere
Author: Barbara O'Connor
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Concepts: poverty, scarcity, supply, demand, consumers, services
Review: Despite its name, Aggie's Sleepy Time Motel was always a lively place in the Great Smokey Mountains. But when the interstate highway was built, cars stopped driving up the hilly roads to the motel and it's hard for Aggie to make ends meet. The swimming pool is full of weeds; the roof leaks and Aggie dreads going to the post office because she knows her mail will be full of unpaid bills. Aggie, whose only company is her cat Ugly now that her husband Harold has died, places an ad in the paper putting the Sleepy Time up for sale.
And that's when the unexpected happens. Clyde Dover sees her ad and rushes up to the motel to buy it. He has a lonely daughter Willow, whose mother has left them and moved to Savannah. Willow dreads having to move and worries that her mother won't be able to find them if she decides to come back. And when Kirby's mom's car breaks down on the mountain road, they walk to the motel to stay while they're waiting for Kirby's stepfather to send them money to get the car fixed. But Kirby's in no hurry. He's a misbehaving kid with a penchant for shoplifting on his way to reform school. And then Loretta's family checks in; she and her adoptive parents are on a trip to the Smokey Mountains to see the places Loretta's recently deceased birth mother visited.
All three children respond to Aggie's warmth and interest in them. And Aggie finds a new role for herself at the Sleepy Time now that Clyde and Willow will be living there and running it. Aggie's financial problems don't stop her from taking a kindhearted concern in the children. Willow and Loretta's parents pitch in to help Aggie in a way that money can't buy. And Kirby discovers that maybe he's not such a bad kid after all. This is a beautifully written story told in a unique southern vernacular.
Review by: The Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children