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Grace Brantley is a curious and imaginative six-year-old girl trying to cope with a divided and constantly changing family environment. The story follows Grace through a turbulent childhood where the only stabilizing elements to be found are her widowed grandmother and a devoted uncle. Grace finds comfort and safety in the few things she can relate to as constants in her life, such as the town where she lives, its inhabitants, and her ongoing fascination with the Ohio River and the mysteries it hides. Grace's intense need to hold on to certain relationships while allowing others to become less important, provide a glimpse into the mind of a child trying to find a quality of life that will allow her to understand values and set priorities. The search takes Grace to places where no child should have to go, but it also reveals the true essence of life, which she finds, can at times be beautiful, but also cruel and demanding, even with the very young. Without even realizing it, Grace finds through her continuous struggles to cope a resolve that is both enlightening and creative in spirit. Her self-confidence is brought about through the balance that is found in the understanding of not only people, but of nature itself. Her childlike faith in God, having been instilled in her early on by her grandmother, will provide the much-needed tension to maintain that balance.