Charlene Ridley didn’t have a lot going for her. Growing up in the Ozark hills of southwestern Missouri during the 1950s, she owned one pair of shoes that had to last the school year, whether her feet grew or not, and she wore dresses her mother made from feed sacks that she bought from the local feed store. Tall and thin when the fashion was short and curvy, Charlene knew she was no beauty, and if she had forgotten, she had her alcoholic father to remind her, as he did at every opportunity. She loved school because it was the one thing she knew she was good at – until sixth grade, that is, when the bullying began. This is a story of poverty and strength, of paternal abuse and maternal love; it is a story about the pain and cruelty of early adolescence, and, ultimately, it is a story of hope.