She was my first kiss. My first love. She was a little match girl who could see the future in the flame of a candle. She was a runaway who taught me more about life than anyone has before or since. And when she was gone my innocence left with her.
As I begin to write, a part of me feels as if I am awakening something best left dead and buried, or at least buried. We can bury the past, but it never really dies. The experience of that winter has grown on my soul like ivy climbing the outside of a home, growing until it begins to tear and tug at the brick and mortar.
I pray I can still get the story right. My memory, like my eyesight, has waned with age. Still, there are things that become clearer to me as I grow older. This much I know: too many things were kept secret in those days. Things that never should have been hidden. And things that should have.
Grace is the story of a young runaway girl and the boy who hides her from a frightening world too large and unfathomable for him to comprehend. It is also about two brothers and the love that binds them together through difficult times.
Published October 2008
Simon & Schuster
“A ninth grader’s world is forever changed in Evan’s holiday present to his fans. Eric is still adjusting to his family’s move from California to Utah when he discovers runaway classmate Grace dumpster diving behind the burger joint where he works. A concerned Eric and his younger brother, Joel, hide Grace in their backyard clubhouse. Meanwhile, the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, and the boys’ father is recovering from Guillain-Barré and their mother is overworked, so there are plenty of distractions to keep the grown-ups ignorant of the goings-on. Evans portrays Grace’s heartbreaking predicament with sensitivity and also touches on how the political situation affected the era’s youth (“The possibility of a nuclear holocaust was just something we always carried around in the back of our minds, like an overdue library book”). Evans knows how to pull on the heartstrings, and the conclusion to this one will have readers reaching for a hankie.” –Publisher’s Weekly
“Would it be Christmas without a tale from Evans (The Gift; The Christmas Box)? Touching and sad, this is sure to match Evans’s previous successes on the best sellers list.” –Library Journal
In some ways this is the most autobiographical of all my novels. When I was eight-years-old my father lost his job and we moved from our beautiful home in California to a rundown, rat-infested home in a poor neighborhood, like the one I describe in the story.
The relationship between the two boys (Eric and Joel—named after Eric Joel, the deceased son of a friend of mine) perfectly represents the relationship I had with my younger brother, Barry.
The scene where the police come to the clubhouse is based on the biblical story of the betrayal of Christ in Gethsemane.