* Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

The hero of Fourth of July Creek is a social worker with plenty of personal problems, including a wife who left him, his teenage runaway daughter, and a serious alcohol problem, who labors to help children in and around a small town in Montana where the locals don’t trust him to spend their hard-earned taxes and the parents of the children he tries to help don’t seem to appreciate much either. Eventually he finds the young son of a crazy survivalist and that rescue will go worse than all others.

This is not a happy story, especially for those of us who would like to hope that at least some children can be helped out of the misery their parents create. But the hero, the social worker, is a nicely nuanced character with a good heart and could make for a great story. It never quite got together for me. Perhaps there were just too many hopeless cases of abused children?


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