ELEPHANT DREAMS by MARTHA DEERINGER
Genre: Young Adult / Historical Fiction / Romance
Publisher: Melange Books
Date of Publication: September 2, 2017
Number of Pages: 224
Desperate to escape her squalid life on the streets of New York City, sixteen-year-old Fiona Finn seeks help at the magnificent Church of the Ascension where Charles Loring Brace, a social reformer horrified by the plight of New York City’s street children, arranges for her to go west aboard an Orphan Train.
Fiona’s homeless, alcoholic father has other plans, however. He wants Fiona to “work” the streets to support his drinking and pursues her across the midwest until she is forced to abandon the train in Houston to avoid a sheriff bent on returning her to her father.
Alone in the dark on the Texas prairie, Fiona’s terrifying experience with a circus elephant, Bolivar, sets the stage for a future she could never have imagined.
Excerpt from Elephant Dreams
By Martha Deeringer
On her sixteenth birthday, Fiona admired the red dress in the B. Altman & Company store window for a bit too long, so mesmerized by its beauty that she didn’t hear someone coming up behind her until filthy hands clasped around her chest and fetid breath assaulted her nostrils.
“Lookin’ for work, dumplin’?” The rancid aroma thickened as the man pulled Fiona tightly against him. “I kin help you. Know a feller wants a purty redhead’s company tonight. Bet he’d buy ya that there dress if yer nice to ’im.” Bristly whiskers brushed the side of her neck and left ear.
Fiona glanced around. Several blocks separated her from the tenement basement on Eighteenth Street where she and her friend, Nora, slept along with dozens of other homeless street children. A few people still roamed the darkening streets, but none noticed her plight. The man clutched her so tightly she could barely breathe. With fright-fueled desperation, Fiona kicked up and back with the heel of her right shoe, catching the unseen man in the knee. He cursed and loosened his grip just enough for Fiona to wrench her left arm free and bring her elbow back against his nose with a sickening crunch that numbed her whole arm. She spun away and fled without looking back, but she could hear the man staggering after her, hurling curses. She felt him grab the back of her dress a moment before he shoved her to the ground.
The worn flour-sack material tore, and Fiona flipped onto her back and kicked wildly. The thin, ragged man was indistinguishable from countless other beggars, pimps, and panhandlers who roamed the streets of New York City, and Fiona knew what would happen if she didn’t get away. She understood these desperate men too well; her father was one of them.
As the man leaned over Fiona’s thrashing body reaching for her hair, a carriage turned up Tenth Street, the horses’ hooves clattering on the cobbled street. Her attacker glanced up long enough for Fiona to roll away and scramble to her feet.
A man’s voice barked, “What in Hell are you doing? Leave that girl alone!” Without a single glance at her rescuer, Fiona darted up Tenth Street, ducking into an alley behind the store and crashing into a garbage bin in the dark. Leaping over the scattered trash, she flew down the alley and came out onto Eleventh. One of her shoes was gone and her torn dress fluttered like a wind-tossed flag behind her.
Martha Deeringer lives with her husband and their large, extended family on a central Texas cattle ranch. She writes magazine articles, often about history, for children and adults and is a frequent contributor to regional and national magazines.
Martha also writes Young Adult fiction, occasionally inspired by her teaching experiences or the antics of her children and grandchildren. She loves ranch life and sometimes abandons her writing to cope with assorted issues involving kids, dogs, cats, horses, orphan calves, and occasionally armadillos, coyotes and rattlesnakes.
THREE SIGNED COPIES!
JANUARY 15-24, 2018
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