Thirteen-year-old Joelle, an adopted girl who feels like an outsider in her small Rhode Island town, explores her unknown heritage and discovers a history that is both a surprising and painful. Though well-loved by her adopted parents, Joelle is obsessed by her origins, though she can barely remember anything before the age of five. When a nerdy classmate, Carlos, points out her resemblance to a Narragansett woman in a painting, Joelle begins to learn more about the Native American tribe, including the enigma of the Crying Rocks. The author also wrote THE AFTERNOON OF THE ELVES, a 1990 Newbery Honor Book.
About Joelle's life before she was found -- brought in from the railway depot, a scrawny five-year-old child -- there isn't a lot known for sure. "And don't ask me! I can't remember anything," she snaps at anyone who pries, including the weird kid named Carlos who sits in the back row in Spanish class. But when Carlos, collector of arrowheads and Native American lore, tells her she looks like a girl in an old painting of Rhode Island's Narragansett Indians, Joelle can't help sneaking a look. She's surprised by a flicker of recognition. It's Carlos who leads her through the forest to the ancient Crying Rocks, where howls on windy days are thought to be the spirit voices of children long ago, flung from the boulders to early death. The terrible story draws Joelle into the downdraft of her own memory, to a window, a shadowy mother, a freight train escape from Chicago. It also leads her toward the history of a lost American people, and the discovery of a rare kind of courage that runs deep in her family.