During the summer of Hattie Owen's 12th birthday she met an uncle she never knew she had. Hattie's Uncle Adam was sent away to a special school by his parents, Hattie's grandparents, when Hattie was just two years old. Chronologically, Adam is now an adult but intellectually he is a child and unable to function in a world where adults are expected to have social skills that allow them to blend in with other adults and, at 'appropriate' times, become 'invisible'. To Hattie, Adam was more like the younger brother she never had than he was an Uncle; pure fun, purely innocent, always spontaneous and always, by her standards, in need of a guiding hand. Adam also added another dimension to Hattie's life, he brought her a new awareness of her family and her town. Hattie's entrenched standards of fairness, tolerance and understanding were severely challenged by Adam's reception in her town; the children of the community considered him a “freak,” to the adults he was an oddity and a sometimes nuisance and to his own parents Adam was clearly an unwelcome visitor that had to be tolerated. Hattie responded to these attitudes by making it her self-appointed task to guide Adam through his temporary life in Millerton.
Hattie's family ran a boarding house in her town; the newest and youngest resident of the boarding house is a single, attractive, hard working, personable and somewhat self-absorbed young lady names Angel Valentine. From the moment Adam laid eyes on Angel he began to fantasize a relationship between them and he went into a “courting” mode. His attraction to Angel was obvious to Hattie but Angel was oblivious; if she noticed Adam's romantic notions at all, she completely misinterpreted them as just another eccentricity of the eccentric Adam. Adam was able to deal fairly well with most of life's obstacles. He was able to accept and even understand his parents continual overreactions to his misadventures and he was able to overcome the sting of the insults and ridicule of the adults and children of the town, but his fantasy of a relationship with Angel Valentine was brutally shattered. To Adam, this relationship with Angel was, apparently, a key to the normality and acceptance that had been denied to him since childhood. Angel's indifference to that relationship made him realize that normality and acceptance were well beyond his grasp.
This report prepared by Harvey Grund