Emmie of Indianapolis (Paperback)
In 1963, a young teenage girl moves with her mother and sisters from the suburbs to the downtown of a Midwestern city when her parents divorce. Emmie, a na ve, curious and intelligent girl, wants the security of her suburban life but has always dreamed of adventure in faraway places. She must take risks, meet new people and become independent. The change is difficult for all because of her mother's alcoholism and lack of a steady income. When Emmie's mother takes a job, she cares for her sisters at night. In her new neighborhood, Emmie meets people from different cultures. Emmie's life becomes a pattern of good and bad experiences. She meets good people who give her courage and support. Her newfound strength allows her to confront evil, thus awakening spiritual and mental determination.
Emmie narrates her story, which is structured around one year, about her experiences of attending school and church, meeting people of diverse characters, holidays, and relationships with her mother and sisters. Emmie's friends are a vital part of the story; Polly, a Romanian immigrant who gives Emmie her companionship and lessons about being a friend and teaches her about faith; George, a young Chinese boy who becomes a citizen and who needs Emmie's help to assimilate into the neighborhood and American life; and Joe, who acts as a protector for the young friends and gives the group his love of music and who brings the young people into the warmth of his family and home. Some of the characters are older residents of the neighborhood, shopkeepers, religious leaders and teachers who make their way into Emmie's life.
When her mother's drinking worsens, and the family's income goes down, Emmie struggles with weakness and doubt. The responsibility of taking care of her sisters, in addition to attending school and trying to maintain normal relationships are stressful to Emmie, but she never gives up. Some of the ways she copes are by satisfying her natural curiosity and love of people, thus she is rewarded with good friends and unique experiences. Even though Emmie's daydreaming is a concern and could potentially lead to shutting out reality or withdrawing from life, she is able to compensate by participating in art, music and reading. Regular visits by their father allow Emmie and her sisters to maintain a small grasp on their previous life.