Award-winning author, Vicki Grove, offers readers a compassionate, emotional story about how negative impressions of others can be overcome through communication and understanding. When sixth-grader Carly finds out that she has to interview Dustin Groat for a school assignment, she's horrified. Not only is Dustin the school bully, but his dysfunctional family — who live near a swamp and smelly landfill — has a reputation for being a gun-toting, hard-nosed group who don't care about anyone else in their small, Missouri town. Everyone knows to stay away from the Groats unless they're looking for some serious trouble. But when Carly begins to interview Dustin, she uncovers several disturbing layers of truth about his life: how his mother committed suicide when he was in third grade, why Dustin seems to be hiding from something or someone, and why their teacher left school in the middle of the year after having a run-in with Dustin's father. Soon she realizes that Dustin's not just tough and mean, but a boy with feelings and insecurities. Born into the "wrong" kind of family, Dustin just needs a break . . . and a good friend.
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Vicki Grove's beautifully rendered characters spill over with true emotion, and their actions and words ring true. This sensitively written story about fitting in offers a portrait of how people can be completely misunderstood when judged too quickly, and invites readers to think about how words and actions can have a negative effect. This is a compassionate and dramatic story that will capture readers' attention.