Necaise school bus in 1918-1919, Kiln High SchoolWe’re six weeks out from the release of Brightest and Best! Here’s a sneak peek from the middle of the book that highlights one of the essential questions of the plot.


In the eleven months since Rachel and her boys entered the Hilty household, Ella had become accustomed to the sound of an automobile rattling down their lane. Lindy Lehman turned up at unpredictable intervals and was always welcome. This time, though, instead of the engine’s revolutions slowing and its intrusive tumult tapering as it approached the house, the car roared at high speed.

Lindy braked hard, and the car lurched to a halt.

And Ella saw David hanging his head on the passenger side of the bench.

Lindy got out. “I hope Rachel is here.”

Ella nodded. “What’s wrong? Is David all right?”

“It’s best if I talk to Rachel.”

“Go on in.”

Lindy glanced at David. “I’d better stay here. Would you ask Rachel to come out, please?”

“Of course.” Ella brushed straw off her hands.

David had begun to squirm and had his fingers on the door handle.

“Stay right there, David.” Lindy’s tone made no allowance for discussion.

Ella found Rachel in the boys’ bedroom upstairs, changing the linens on their beds. Rachel dropped the pillowcases and raced down the stairs. Ella followed, determined to keep silent but unable to turn away from the commotion. Obviously David had left the farm again early Monday morning. Where Lindy found him was the curious question.

“David!” Rachel said, startled.

“You can get out now,” Lindy said.

“You’re supposed to be in the field with Jed.” Dread seeped through Rachel’s voice.

“He was a long way from the field,” Lindy said. “David has something to tell you.”

David opened the door now and got out of the car. “I’ll go to the field now.”

“David,” Lindy said. “You know what you need to do.”

“Can’t you just let me go find Jed? Isn’t that what you all want?”

Ella’s gaze snapped up. David’s complexion flushed.

“Sneaking around is not the way,” Lindy said. “You have to talk to your mother.”

David exhaled heavily. “There’s an assignment due in my literature class. If I don’t turn it in today, I’ll get a zero.”

School. Just as Ella thought.

“Literature class?” Rachel echoed. “You’ve been leaving Jed with all the work so you could go to that English school?”

“I like school, Mamm,” David said. “What is so wrong with wanting to learn?”


Brightest and Best is available for pre-order. If you’re looking for quick links, go here.