Leah Weiss's ear for dialogue and her expert balancing of multiple narrators captured readers of her first novel, If the Creek Don't Rise. Her second novel, All the Little Hopes, uses two 13-year-old narrators to tell a lyrical, often gripping story of wartime struggle, small-town mysteries and what it means to be a family.
As World War II drags on, Lucy Brown's tobacco-farming family in eastern North Carolina receives a government contract to produce beeswax for the war effort. Soon, they gain an unexpected addition: Allie Bert Tucker, who came from the state's western mountains to care for her pregnant aunt. When her aunt starts behaving oddly and her uncle disappears, Bert turns to the Browns for help and eventually becomes part of their household. Lucy, bookish and fond of using "ten-dollar words," is thrilled to have a new friend and sleuthing partner (she fancies herself a Nancy Drew). Bert, grieving her mother's death and always conscious of the class gap between herself and the Browns, is thrilled to be welcomed but doesn't quite trust that her new situation will last. Telling their story in alternating chapters, Weiss shows how both girls struggle to navigate their teenage years while going to school, helping Lucy's mama with the housework and laboring alongside her father and brother on the farm.
Filled with vividly drawn characters of all ages, All the Little Hopes is a warm, sensitive story of family during wartime, as well as a glimpse into rural life in the North Carolina coastal plain. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams