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Young Lolly Candolin must choose whether to help an innocent man go free, or destroy her own father's career.
The year is 1955. Eisenhower is president, the McCarthy hearings are over, and Lolly Candolin has given her father an ultimatum: "Stop drinking or I'll cut my hair." Her father, refusing to have his life dictated by a ten-year-old child, retaliates by tossing Lolly's aged cat Bo, wrapped in a burlap sack, down into a gypsy camp from the high levee surrounding the town.
Going against everything she's been told, Lolly ventures into the gypsy camp on her own, where she befriends a cast of misfits, including: Tick, a tomboy her own age; Sophia, Tick's mother and gifted healer; and Sam, the unofficial leader of Cougarville, and the owner of a pet cougar.
It's not long before Lolly and her new friends are caught in a maelstrom of murder and intrigue as the county sheriff is shot and killed at a local saloon, with all evidence pointing to Sam. Lolly's father, the county prosecutor with everything to lose, goes after the case full bore, determined to see Sam convicted and executed.
Things become even more complicated for Lolly when, during a clandestine mission to warn the Cougarville residents of her father's brutal intentions, she discovers the identity of the true killer, putting into motion a terrible dilemma that no young girl should ever have to face. Revealing her evidence will not only set an innocent man free, but destroy both her father's career and any chance of winning what she yearns for most: her father's approval.
Elizabeth Appell's debut novel, LESSONS FROM THE GYPSY CAMP explores the tension between individualism and family obligation, the complexity of discerning right from wrong, and the overwhelming consequences of pursuing truth and justice.
Below them she saw a cluster of trailers huddled like desert creatures in the heat, noses down, waiting for the sun to die. She wanted to ask if that was where the gypsies lived, but before she spoke, her father had moved to the back of the car. His chin pressed down toward his chest and his eyes carried sadness. Maybe he wasn't going to hurt her cat.
Dear Jesus, don't let anything happen to Bo.
She followed him. The gravel on the road was sharp and hurt her bare feet. He opened the trunk and from inside the bag Bo let out a frightened yowl. Tears shimmered in her eyes as the bag wiggled and squirmed.
Her father reached in and took hold of the burlap.
"Daddy, please, don’t!" She grappled for the bag, but he blocked her. The expression on her father's face softened and, for a long moment, it all stopped. Even Bo was quiet. In that brief rush of time, she felt as if her father was going to put Bo in her arms and together they'd drive home, him scolding her all the way about defying him.
But, he winced and hauled the bag out of the trunk. A dark patch of wet shirt stuck to his back as he walked away from the car. She had trouble keeping up with him. Bo screamed and clawed. Her father came to a spot on the embankment that overlooked the middle of the trailer camp and he ripped off the rope.
"Bo!" she screamed and her father raised the bag and flung it, one end flying open.
Bo landed with a thunk midway down the berm, his body now out of the bag, rolling over and over until he stopped. Dazed, he looked from one side to the other, then crawled away from the burlap and limped down through the dry, sticky levee grass and disappeared into the heart of the trailer camp.
Lolly plunged forward, wanting to get him back, but her father grabbed her and flung her over his shoulder.
"Let me down! Let me down!" she cried, kicking and flailing, but he ignored her, dumping her unceremoniously into the car. She grabbed the handle and tried to open it, but he held it closed.
"You get out of this car, Lolly Candolin, and you'll regret it."
"Daddy, please! Bo's old, he won't be able to..."
Folding his tall body into the driver's seat, he jammed the key into the ignition. The engine screamed as he turned the car around and peeled down the levee ramp. Lolly's sobs were strangled in her throat. She closed her eyes and tried to erase the image of her soft old Bo staggering down the levee, frightened, perhaps in pain.
She didn't open her eyes until the car came to an abrupt halt in front of their house, the sweet scent of wisteria and honeysuckle stirred by the warmth of the leftover day. His face looked like a clay mask and tears were running down his terracotta cheeks.
Good, Lolly thought. It was fair that he was suffering. This time you've gone too far.
"I had to do it, Lolly," he said, his voice low. "There are always consequences for your actions. This is a lesson you must learn and sometimes it's the hardest thing you can ever imagine."
Barnes & Noble
Scribes Valley Publishing Company
An engaging exploration of such issues as individualism and family obligation, the complexities of discerning right from wrong, and the consequences of pursuing truth and justice. Elizabeth Appell's Lessons From The Gypsy Camp is an especially recommended addition to school and community library fiction shelves! --Midwest Book Review
At times disturbing because of its realistic voyeurism into a home wrought with alcoholism and mean-spiritedness, Lessons from the Gypsy Camp is riveting. --Midwest Book Review (second review)
Lessons from the Gypsy Camp is a truly captivating read. From the first page the reader is caught up in Lolly's story, her father's rage, and her mother's quiet avoidance of the real world. While it would be all too easy to portray both parents as villainous antagonists, Appell manages to do an excellent job as portraying them realistically and sympathetically, living in worlds that aren't entirely of their choosing. This book is a true-page turner, nearly impossible to put down once it's been picked up. --Monica Poling, oncewritten.com
In her debut novel, Lessons From the Gypsy Camp, Elizabeth Appell paints a realistic picture of a dysfunctional family in the 1950's. Amid prejudices, Lolly Candolin's character shines forth with candor and sensitivity. Heart-wrenching and mesmerizing, Lessons From the Gypsy Camp will entrance you from start to finish! --Katherine J. Turcotte, xpertreviews
The lessons within are many and humbling. Readers learn that children are often our best judges due to their innocence. They don't allow preconceived notions to get in the way of love. Journey with a young gal who shares the heart of a person has nothing to do with their social standing. A lovely book for all ages. A perfect read for middle and high school youth to learn that standing up for what you believe in has glorious rewards. --Dotsie Bregel, boomerwomenspeak.com
This is a story about a family that is almost destroyed due to alcohol...it spans emotions. It is a powerful coming of age story. --Catholic Library World
An excellent read. Lessons from the Gypsy Camp is multi-layered and conflict filled. Appell presents strong images and themes. --In the Library Reviews
A gripping tale of family trouble, community prejudice, personal responsibility, the consequences of choosing to do the wrong or right thing. --Rebeccasreads.com
The lessons from the gypsy camp are well worth learning, and are made all the more entertaining by the intensely vivid and endearing characters that teach them. --Allbook Reviews
Lessons From The Gypsy Camp is a story of lost trust, of differing beliefs, of justice; a story that will tear at the heart. --Dakota Wind, Rolling Seas (Australia)
Dewey Decimal: 813
Book Publisher: Scribes Valley Publishing Company
No. of Pages: 298
Paper Weight (lb): 60
Dust Cover: Yes
Acid Free Paper: Yes
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