Published: March 18, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father's periodic violent rages. When the family's barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old. After years of tending to her siblings, sixteen-year-old Becky knows just what a baby needs. This baby needs a mother. With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it's with baby "Georgia" in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though. Many suspect Becky and her baby are not what they seem. Among the doubters is a beautiful, reclusive woman with her own terrible loss and a long history with Rosie. As Becky's life becomes entangled with the lives of the people in town, including a handsome boy who suspects Becky is hiding something from her past, she finds her secrets more difficult to keep. Becky should grab the baby and run, but her newfound home and job with Rosie have given Becky the family she's never known. Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time. But it's a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make. Should she run away again? Should she stay--and fight? Or lie? What does the future hold for Becky and Georgia? With a greatness of heart and a stubborn insistence on hope found in few novels of any genre, "Providence" proves that home is where you find it, love is an active verb, and family is more than just a word.
This is one of these books that you just settle down into and it is a great young adult option for fans of Southern Literature. A lot of the typical elements of that genre can be found there--the small town community, someone dealing with hardships in their life, and people taking care of each other (and, oh yeah, it is set in the South...).
Becky is an interesting character. She was never allowed to be a child--she says from a young age, she was in charge of taking care of her 9 (and counting) younger siblings. She did attend school, but that was actually an inconvenience to her parents, who would rather have had her working on her farm.
When Becky runs away and finds an abandoned newborn, she immediately takes on the roll of mother to the child. As she slowly becomes more a part of the life of her new town, she is presented again and again with the opportunity to "act her age," but is more comfortable living beyond her years. In some ways, this is more of a reverse coming of age story, it is about a young woman who learns to be young.
I will say that reading this as an adult is probably a different experience than reading it as a "young adult." Throughout much of this book, I found myself worrying about the such details of the legality of caring for an abandoned child, of Becky working "under the table" for Rosie and others in the town, etc. I think these things probably would not be on the radar of a teenaged reader and, therefore, they would not be be bothered by them.
All in all, this was a satisfying, bittersweet, and heart-warming read for anyone--young adult or otherwise--who is looking for their next book.
I received an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.