In the remote mountains of Dark Holler, North Carolina in 1922, a girl is born to a bitter mother who vows to keep her last child all to herself. Least, as the girl is called, grows up with very little affection from her mother and few interactions with others. Neighbors are told that she is a simple child, and she learns neither to read nor to write.
When Granny Beck, her maternal grandmother, comes to live with Least and her mother, light is cast upon Dark Holler. Granny Beck secretly teaches her skills to the girl and captivates her with old mountain stories and Cherokee legends. Granny Beck tells Least that she has magical “Gifts and Powers” to save herself and to protect others. As Least matures, she feels a kinship to the Little People (Yunwi Tsunsdi). However, some people are suspicious of her Gifts and Powers; they see them as contrary to Christianity. Luther Gentry, Least’s sweetheart, is one of those doubters. When the two marry, Least promises to part with her old life, which includes her magic as well as her cheerless name. She becomes Birdie Gentry and, for once, lives in a home of unconditional love.
When she is an elderly woman of eighty-five, she is faced with a difficult choice. A relative is in trouble, and her Gifts and Powers are needed – fast. Miss Birdie must weigh the promise she made to her husband and to herself so many years ago against the safety of a young boy.
Interspersed throughout the novel are images of artifacts from Birdie’s life, including hymns and advertisements.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.