Jimmy Lee Hickam grew up along Red Dog Road, a dead-end strip of gravel and mud buried deep in the bowels of Appalachian Ohio. It was the poorest region of the state. The poorest county in the region. And the poorest road in the county.

To make things worse, the name Hickam was synonymous for trouble throughout Southeastern Ohio. Jimmy Lee hailed from a heathen mix of thieves, moonshiners, drunkards, and general anti-socials that for decades had clung to both the hardscrabble hills and the iron bars of every jail cell in the region. This life, Jimmy Lee believed, was his destiny.

The only two constants in Jimmy Lee’s life are football and the misery of his situation. When Jimmy Lee wins the school essay writing contest, there are no accolades. In fact, it creates nothing but resentment and doubt.

No one believes this 17-year-old, wrong-side-of-the-tracks kid is capable of creating such a paper. When the school attempts to strip him of the award, his English teacher risks her job to stand up for him, showing him a path away from the cycle of poverty and alcoholism that has defined his family for years.

USA Book News

2011 Book of the Year
for Mystery/Suspense


Robin Yocum was born in 1955 in Steubenville, Ohio, and grew up in the in the Eastern Ohio village of Brilliant. He is an award-winning journalist and the author of three books.
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