Billy Creekmore bursts into the world at midnight on Friday the 13th, in the year 1895. Because of this, people say he will live an unlucky life, and in fact it does seem to be heading in that direction --- with his mom dying soon after giving birth and his father abandoning him. Billy spends most of his first 10 years at the Guardian Angels Home for Boys, but the orphanage’s name is a bit misleading. The owner forces the young boys to work hard, with little food, scant education and no love whatsoever.
Billy tries to keep his spirits up with dreams that one day his dad will come back and claim him. He also entertains the other children with his incredible imagination and wonderful storytelling skills. Still, most of the boys look forward to leaving the gloomy orphanage and working in the nearby glass factory when they reach 12, including Billy.
But one night Billy discovers his pal, Meek Jones, hiding in the bushes, starved and crippled from the harsh life at the factory. While running for his life, Meek stops by the orphanage hoping to obtain a bit of food and to warn Billy and the others about the horrors from which he escaped.
Not too long afterwards, Billy’s name comes up to be the next boy handed off to the glass factory, despite being only 10 years of age. Billy quickly uses his imagination to think of a way to escape, but before he can put his plan into action, a kind stranger arrives at the orphanage claiming to be Billy’s uncle. He and Billy’s aunt have just recently learned of Billy’s existence and have come to take him home.
Billy’s life takes an unexpected curve, and he finds family and love for the first time. He wants to help at his new home and eventually joins his uncle and the rest of the town working in the dark, dirty and dangerous coal mine. It doesn’t take long before Billy also wants to join the forbidden union and help stage a strike with other concerned employees, hoping to improve the safety and working conditions. But Billy’s adventures don’t stop here. Soon he comes face to face with his past and doesn’t like what he finds.
Tracey Porter weaves an intense historical tale, bringing to life America’s industrial era of the early 1900s. Readers may be shocked to learn of the dangers and lack of safety measures for factory workers in those times, and even more horrified to find out that young kids slaved away in those factories as well. But Porter’s characters shine through the grime and gloom with hope and determination, especially the kindhearted and adventurous Billy Creekmore.
Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on June 26, 2007
by Tracey Porter
- Publication Date: June 26, 2007
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins
- ISBN-10: 006077570X
- ISBN-13: 9780060775704
Folks say I'm bound to be unlucky in life, for I was born at midnight on a Friday, the thirteenth of December, and Peggy says it's certain I can commune with spirits. But I ain't never seen any ghosts, not even my own mother, and wouldn't that be the ghost I'd see if I could?So begins the tale of Billy Creekmore, a boy with mystifying powers and the glorious gift of storyt
Folks say I'm bound to be unlucky in life, for I was born at midnight on a Friday, the thirteenth of December, and Peggy says it's certain I can commune with spirits. But I ain't never seen any ghosts, not even my own mother, and wouldn't that be the ghost I'd see if I could?So begins the tale of Billy Creekmore, a boy with mystifying powers and the glorious gift of storytelling. But what does life hold for someone growing up in the cruel clutches of the Guardian Angels Home for Boys, where Billy's gifts do more harm than good?
Escaping the orphanage seems an impossible feat, but when a stranger comes to claim Billy, he sets off on an extraordinary journey. With only a tin box that holds precious mementos of his beloved mother and mysterious father, Billy travels from the coal mines of West Virginia to the spectacular world of a traveling circus in search of his past, his future, and his own true self....more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by HarperCollins