"Reynolds charts a "white trash" teenager's harrowing adventures in a wonderfully compelling, powerful, moving, and complex coming-of-age story. Jael helps her mother run a sleazy bar and pool room, all the while fearing the drunken sexual advances of customers who sometimes pass out on the front porch, only to resume drinking in the morning. Her nurturance by the goddess-Mother Earth-Madonna spirit informs the whole novel. She finds this nurturance when she takes comfort from the nearby woods; she finds it in the giant, uprooted oak that provides her shelter when she is seduced and abandoned on an uninhabited swamp island; and she finds it in comforting words from the Virgin Mother's statue in the church in which she discovers work and the power to find peace. Counterpointing Jael's self-redemption, however, is her self-mutilation when in confusion she ritualistically cuts her name into her thigh, gashes her own belly, and gnaws away the skin of her knuckles because it reminds her of penis skin."