A heart of steel canÆt be stolenùunless the thief is Hellie Jondoe.
ItÆs 1918. A war of nations is ending and a worldwide flu epidemic just heating up, but to thirteen-year-old Hellie, the only battle that counts is her own survival.
An orphan by four, a beggar by six, Hellieùas apprentice pickpocket to her brother Harryùis now ôthe best dang cannon of moveable property between SatanÆs Circus and HellÆs Kitchen.ö SheÆs as tough as she is resourceful . . . on her own turf.
But after a gang shootout coerces Hellie to head west on an orphan train, her plans to jump track are quickly derailed. Landing in the Hidden Hills, a ranch outside Pendleton, Oregon, Hellie meets her match in the domineering Scholastica Gorence, an elderly ranch woman to whom she is indentured for three years. To make matters worse, Hellie becomes the unwilling caretaker of Lizzie, a nearly blind girl, and Joey, a crippled toddler. The last thing Hellie wants is a family, but she is strapped with one now.
ThereÆs a time to cut and run, a time to stay and fight. Choosing which is right takes savvy, guts, and heart . . . all compelling Hellie to dig down deep.