This book is hilarious.
The story opens with Alfredo Santayas arrival from Guatamala in a small Texas town. The only English he knows is what hes learned on TV. He knows I want to buy a vowel from Wheel of Fortune. He doesnt know what it means, it just knows that vowels are important.
The story is mostly told from the viewpoint of Eva Galt, the 11-year old daughter of an Episcopalian minister. Eva is very observant about the world around her. She wishes that her parents liked each other again. She does have one habit that her parents dont like: when she prays, she prays to Ted Williams. She does this, we learn, because shes never seen Gods face and she needs a face to talk to when she prays. Her father likes baseball and has an autographed Ted Williams baseball card, so she prays to Ted Williams.
Her younger sister, Ava, who is 8, chastises her for praying to Ted Williams because hes not God. Eva tells her she knows this and says she says Ted Williams because God doesnt have a face and tells her to stop interrupting her prayers.
Eva ends up saying a prayer that goes something like this:
Dear Ted Williams, Hi. Its me again. And Ava. Thank you for all of our blessings and our parents and our house and our food and our clothes and our underwear. (Interruption from Ave asking if they really need to be thankful for underwear. Eva says they need to be thankful for everything.) Help us to be good people who care about each other. And if I die before I wake (Ava interrupts again to ask if theyre going to die. Eva responds not now. Ave asks if theyre done praying. Eva says no and resumes her praying.) And if I die before I wake (struggles for the rhyme) Id like a piece of chocolate cake. (Ava says shes never heard that prayer before. Eva says its new.)
She ends the prayer with the sign of the cross and the sign for hit away since she was praying to Ted Williams.
Eva and her sister Ava go on little adventures together, like fishing at the sewage plant and hiking through the woods. There adventures change the day that Eva decides they should go digging for dinosaur bones and they dig up a skeleton.
At the same time they dig up the skeleton, someone is going around town and drawing pentagrams and leaving various meat products in the center. One even appears at the site of the skeleton, after the skeleton has been removed. We learn that the pentagrams are being created by the son of the minister at the local evangelical church, Kenlow Shindler. Hes proud of the attention that his campaign has created, but frustrated that he cant take any of the created.
There has also been a miracle at the local post office. The image of the Virgin Mary has appeared on one of the stamp machines. News reporters and people flock to see the Virgin Mary.
Then the machine is stolen. Bringing in more news reporters.
The skeleton that Eva and Ava found is determined to be that of a man who had his head bashed in sometime in the 1920s. Its also determined that the Sons of Belial were active at this time and suspicion grows that this is a Satanic murder and some how linked to all the pentagrams showing up around the town.
The local sheriff is highly annoyed by the Virgin Mary and the stolen postage machine especially since the investigation has to be turned over to the FBI. Hes even more annoyed with the so-called Satanic activity because he knows that its being done by a local teenager and he just hasnt been able to nail the kid.
Then Eva and Ava discover that Alfredo is living in an abandoned home in the woods and try to befriend him. They dont speak Spanish and Alfredo speaks no English. Although he is learning some Chinese at the Chinese restaurant where he works. Eva and Ava bring a Spanish/English dictionary to try to talk with Alfredo, but he cant read and he talks to fast for Eva to translate using the dictionary.
Eventually all the crazy pieces of the puzzle get put together.
This story was so much fun. The sheriffs frustration with the townspeople who want him to arrest Satan. Evas wisdom that is readily shared with Ava. The Rev. Galts frustration with his parish. The Rev. Shindlers exorcism of the jail. The efforts to get Alfredo a job that no other American can do or wants to do, so that he can get a green card that is really pink.
I found myself laughing constantly.
This is a very good book - I really enjoyed reading it. There were many interesting characters, and the plot was unique. The book made me laugh several times. Well worth a read!!