In 1882 rural Missouri, an epidemic kills many children under six. Two survivors, four-year-old Freeman McQuinn and his little neighbor Dolly Bellew are isolated and bullied by farmer families who do not care that they have been left "deef and dumb" (as they were known in those days,) by the disease. With Freeman's young sister, Rhoda, running interference, the three stick together despite being ostracized and denied education.
Freeman and Dolly learn to live with handicaps that steal their lives, but a hostile, "progressive" society eventually steals their family, as well.
It takes a special person to stand up to a society that calls him "teched by the devil," "spawn of sin," or just "dummy." But Freeman doesn't intend to be hidden away. He breaks out into the unfriendly farming community and makes his own way in life. Through drought, fire, and flood these frontier children grow to adulthood in a country torn by prejudice.
Freeman and his sister are stronger and more determined than anyone knows. Together with Dolly, they become representatives of love, bravery, and sacrifice.
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Three of Freeman's children
"From the moment little Freeman wakes up from a coma and wonders why he hears no birds and he can't make his voice work, I was in his corner. His courage in fire and flood and his thinking up ways to cope in an unfriendly world make this a solid novel of growing up under the most difficult of circumstances." Norma H.
"M.J. This is definitely one of your best novels yet. I had no idea what it must have been like for a deaf-mute person on the frontier. I was amazed by Freeman's kindness to those who treated him so badly, and by his sister's having the understanding to sacrifice. These get better and better. What's your next book?" Marilyn D.
Novels by M.J. Brett
(a.k.a. Margaret Brettschneider)
This was her engagement photo. A strong woman.