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The year is 1910.
Trudy Cameron, an eleven-year-old girl introduced to readers in The Dream Bucket, meets a thirteen-year-old neighbor, Manuela Blayne. Trudy and her seven-year-old stepsister, Bailey Benton, make friends with Manuela, while Trudy realizes she can never understand her new friend.
Yasmin, Manuela’s mother, has given the girl to Nettie and Herschel Blayne, who were born into slavery. Manuela’s grandmother Nettie is epileptic. Her grandfather Herschel, an alcoholic, makes and sells all kinds of illegal spirits.
Manuela Blayne, a novella, is the fourth book in the Covington Chronicles. It is a complete story that stands alone. To understand some of the characters fully, however, it would be beneficial to read The Dream Bucket first. In first-person point of view, Trudy tells the story in her own words.
As Trudy and her siblings mature, they indulge in surprising mischief. The novella tells about struggles of young people to achieve what they hope for by overcoming various obstacles. Manuela Blayne is not primarily a romance, but it contains an unexpected romance.
Trudy sees how different her opportunities are from those afforded Manuela. Trudy finds it impossible not to suffer some of what her friend endures. She hopes to help her friend make a difference in life, while Manuela exemplifies a beautiful new kind of hope.