I loved this book! But then, I knew I would because I loved Ms. Wall's The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses.
The narrator, Bean, is a smart and spunky 12 year old girl with wisdom far beyond her years, even beyond that of her 16 year old sister or their whackadoodle mother. When their mother doesn't return from a short trip (not the first time she's left them), the girls travel by bus from California to Virginia to stay with their uncle.
They have a little trouble adjusting to their new school at the same time (1970) their school has just been integrated and is adjusting to that. Without their uncle's knowledge and against his wishes, they find paying jobs helping at the home of the cotton mill's manager. Bean helps the manager's wife with three young kids and Liz works in the manager's home office. The manager turns out to be a bully who takes advantage of the girls and finally attacks Liz in the back seat of his car. The law suit that results brings the family together but affects each one differently.
Dealing with some very serious themes, the book still manages to be a fast and enjoyable read because of the way Bean (Jean) relates the story. She is a delightful child. Liz has a way with words, making up some very amusing Ogden Nash type poetry about emus. And the mother, even with her emotional and mental problems, does obviously love her girls. Actually, most of the characters are very likeable except for the mill manager. There is much love in this family.