Fifteen-year old Loretta hates her life in the fundamentalist Mormon community of which her family is a part. She dreams of escape. Although she's not ready to run, she spends her nights meeting Bradshaw, a gentile boy, and making out in his car. He urges her to go away with him, but she hesitates too long, and one night her father catches her crawling back in the window. He beats her, nails her window shut and marries her off to Dean, a man his own age, who has a wife and children.
Although trapped in her new life and repeatedly raped by her husband, Loretta still dreams of freedom and eventually makes her escape with Jason, Dean's teenage nephew. They take off looking for Dean's cache of gold.
This book is not easy to like. The Mormon characters are bigoted and self-righteous. Their treatment of Loretta is basically child abuse. Loretta is supposed to be a sympathetic character, but she comes across as calculating. Jason was more sympathetic, but not enough to carry the story.
The narrative is not always easy to follow. The story is told from the point of view of a shifting cast of characters including musings by Evel Knievel, which I thought added little to the plot. I felt sad for the people trapped in strict, humorless communities, but they weren't particularly sympathetic or likable.
I received the book from Penguin Books for this review.