Rayford's Garden

Rita Haag

Rayford's Garden
Wood Lane Books
1 September 2023

Rayford’s Garden

Rita Haag

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It is 1864. On a small farm in northwest Georgia, twelve-year-old Tatum Wiley runs wild under her father's doting eye, devising clever plans that generally go awry and land her in trouble. Despite her impish ways, she's dedicated to her uncle, a mentally handicapped artistic savant who spends his days carving realistic likenesses in the family's garden. As Sherman's troops rampage across Georgia her father feels compelled to join the Confederate Army and asks Tatum to care for Rayford, but her promise is given lightly. Consumed by grief and despair she's determined to continue her childish antics, insisting other family members should be taking on this responsibility. As the war comes closer circumstances change, and soon it is up to her, alone, to care for Rayford. When their farm comes under a Yankee attack, Tatum rises to the occasion. But it is one of Rayford's carvings that changes the course of their lives, forces her to take a stand, and makes her question if what she's been fighting hardest is the thing she wants most.

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