Winner of the 2015 Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction.
In May of 1964, eleven-year-old Etta McDaniel’s horse is struck by lightning—dead and gone, she hopes, out of her life “as though he’d never come in the first place, bringing with him one catastrophe after another.” But Troy, gruesomely scarred, not only survives but seems to have gained supernatural powers, which Etta sets her mind on harnessing in her search for treasure. She is convinced that a find of the sort her hero Heinrich Schliemann unearthed at ancient Troy will set to rights everything that’s suddenly wrong with her life: personal trouble—rivalry and betrayal—at home and social unrest that reaches even her family’s farm. Half-blind and crippled, the horse does lead Etta to treasure—though not to the treasure she dreamed of. Along with her shell-shocked grandfather, the family's African American housekeeper, and the widow of a Mohawk chief, the lightning-struck horse initiates her into the world of "action and liability" as the Civil Rights Movement takes hold in her rural South. Etta comes to understand that this world was never perfect, with its economy dependent on tobacco and before that on slavery, as excavations on the farm reveal. Once unearthed, the ugly truths of history scar Etta and set her, in a figurative sense, upon the back of the lightning-scarred horse and on the journey of her life.
Appropriate for advanced middle-grade readers through adult.