Emmons makes a strong debut with the story of Bethany Wylie, whose coming-of-age is rocked by revelations that could up-end her family. Bethany cherishes summers spent in West Virginia's Coal River Valley with her cousin Reana Mae, who is closer to her than her real sisters. Her childhood is innocent, despite the alcoholism, violence, and secrets swirling just out of her grasp, but as she grows up, she becomes more attuned to the cracks in her family's idyllic facade. Reana Mae, meanwhile, grows up faster than Bethany could imagine, and the dark secrets of their family's past, once revealed, could rip them apart. Emmons has a rich voice that pairs well with the earthy setting, and she handles Bethany's education with an easy hand. Though the plot could use some shaking up--its reliance on stereotypically unsavory redneck doings is the book's biggest flaw--the characters are wonderfully drawn and reason enough to stick with it.