The Sand Castle by Rita Mae Brown
Since the publication of Rubyfruit Jungle in 1973, Rita Mae Brown has been a major American literary voice and a best-selling author. In The Sand Castle, she revisits some of her most unforgettable characters: sisters Juts and Wheezie Hunsenmeir, and Juts’s precocious young daughter, Nickel.
It’s August, 1952, and seven-year-old Nickel sets off for a day at the seashore with her mother, aunt, and cousin Leroy. Everyone’s excited when they reach Chesapeake Bay—everyone except for Leroy, who is recently motherless and frightened of the world around him. Nickel delights in tormenting her cousin, but, as the group lounges on the beach and begins work on a magnificent sand castle, the sisters try to coax him out of his shell by telling stories about their own childhood trips to the shore. As the sun swings higher in the sky, Nickel’s taunting of Leroy escalates, and the weight of family history between her mother and aunt rises to the surface—and then a crab bites Leroy, and they must all come together. It isn’t until years later that Nickel can see that single day at the beach for what it truly was—a life-changing lesson about family and all the pleasure and heartbreak that comes with it.
The sly wit and generous humanity of Rita Mae Brown’s writing has earned her a place in the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. In The Sand Castle, she explores human connection in its purest form, through the lens of the ageless Hunsenmeirs.