Kirk Ward Robinson’s novel recounts the story of a young girl who becomes a victim of the child welfare system.
It seems the child is doomed from the start after her mother gives her the name of “Blaspheme,” then abandons the 4-year-old, leaving her with her grandmother Estelle, who dubs her Bee. Bee knows almost nothing about the most basic life skills, including how to use the toilet or silverware. But Estelle and her son, Bo, teach her, and it’s soon clear that Bee is bright, curious and naturally cheerful. When Bee meets hikers on the nearby Appalachian Trail, one of them gives her the nickname Blaze after she explains that her uncle says, “… I blaze everywhere all the time.”
For a time, things go well, but then Estelle dies, and her house is repossessed. Seeing little choice, Bo, who works at the rail yard depot for the immoral man who is likely Bee’s father, sends her to the orphanage and shortly after, is severely injured on the job. And so, Bee’s struggles begin.
Book two and a prequel to the first (Timewall Speaks), this story is well plotted, detailed and richly described, such as this rendering of a crooked attorney: “Elijah Barnes, Esq. was a slick-faced man of fifty who could scent money with the acuity of a dog at a fire hydrant.” The innocent pleasure of children at play and their natural inclination toward happiness is a bittersweet lift to the otherwise often dark tale.
The author is at times, however, heavy-handed with some of the darker characters, coming close to creating caricatures with descriptions such as: “he said, dripping scorn”; “Miles smiled cruelly”; or “Miles’ lip curled into a sinister sneer.” Also, the troubles that befall Blaize can seem stereotypical—even though they are nonetheless realistic.
Those matters aside, this is an engrossing, poignant story—one likely to captivate a wide variety of readers.
Also available as an ebook.