Kansas Kaleidoscope (Hardcover)
In many ways, 11-year-old Marky is a typical kid in 1950s Kansas. He collects baseball cards like other boys his age, goes fishing and hunting with his father, and has a good shot at winning his town's annual turtle race. But his family is not immune to hardships. Marky and his siblings, for example, rarely see their dad, Boyd, who works the graveyard shift at an aircraft plant 30 miles away. Their mother, Gerry, is a manic-depressive; Marky adores her but is perpetually worried about her oscillating moods. After two decades of marriage and six children, Marky's parents engage in arguments that escalate in frequency and violence. Intense fights send Gerry fleeing to a neighbor's house only for Boyd to chase her down. With his older siblings out of the nest, Marky becomes the protector of his two little brothers. The three boys stick together when Gerry makes plans to leave her husband for good-and take her sons with her. But Marky's life takes another turn for the worse, as his parents' never-ending feud culminates in him and his brothers stranded at a foster farm. Now, they're saddled with uncompromising farm chores and endure merciless punishments if they stray from their foster parents' strict rules. Marky struggles to keep up with academics and farm work and to ensure his remaining family stays close. But an indelible figure from his past makes a surprise return and offers him a momentous choice.