Almost 17 percent of American children live in poverty, a startling statistic. Michele Ivy Davis gives readers a touching and realistic glimpse into the life of one of these children in her new novel Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel. Davis must have grown up poor, or had close friends who did, because she shows a dead-on understanding of what it's like on the other side of the tracks. Evangeline (Eddie, to her friends) Brown lives in a sleepy little Florida town called Paradise, and she doesn't like her home life very much. There's a lot not to like. For starters, her mother died when she was small, and she lives at her father's business, a run-down motel with the tail end of a pink Cadillac mounted on one wall. If that weren't embarrassing enough, she sports a wardrobe of second-hand clothes, and most of the time when she gets home from school, her father is passed out, drunk. She shuns, and is shunned by, the other kids at school, and with sixth grade starting up, she's dreading the wizened old teacher she's sure to get.
Imagine Eddie's surprise when young Miss Rose strolls in the door! Her happiness quickly turns to consternation when her new teacher puts her in the front of the class, and after sizing up a few test scores, begins to call on her more than she'd like. She reluctantly tries out for the choir at Miss Rose's behest, but the last straw comes when she finds out that the teacher is planning on visiting her at home! With the help of her new friend Farrell, the son of her dad's drinking buddy, Eddie decides on a drastic plan of action she's going to run away. Davis accurately captures the mixture of resentment and shame that many poor children feel, but also delivers plenty of the thing they need most: hope. The winner of the Dutton Children's Books Ann Durell Fiction Contest, Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel is a winning first novel that young readers will learn from and enjoy.