"An often moving story about the corrosive power of shame." — Kirkus Reviews
East of Tulsa, Oklahoma, sits Murphy Manor, a grand southern-style antebellum mansion, the centerpiece of a ten-thousand acre ranch dotted with thousands of oil wells and black angus cattle. The property's most significant feature is the purple jacaranda trees flanking the drive up to the house. Since 1910, its owners J.T. and Geraldine Murphy have enjoyed supreme wealth and privilege. When her husband dies in 1938, Mrs. Murphy becomes a reclusive invalid, yet doesn't let that keep her from her omnipotent control.
It is 1954 and the ranch foreman's sixteen-year-old physically disabled daughter Emma does not realize that she is at the center of the most contemptible secret in Murphy Manor's history. With her family living on the property, Emma naively goes about her lonely and protected life doing what she can with her 'bum' leg. Her closest confidante is Mrs. Murphy's black housemaid Macie Mae. The two forge a strong bond and loving, companionable friendship. Emma is unaware that Macie Mae has been forced to keep all the Murphy secrets, an overwhelming burden Macie Mae must suffer alone.
Every summer Mrs. Murphy's twin grandsons Hank and Sean Thompson visit, reigniting the budding infatuation between Emma and Hank. Despite reprimands from both families to keep their distance, their mutual teenage passion unravels one hot June day in a sexually explicit exchange. Can Emma and Hank obey the adults' mandates to stay apart? Or will the one secret that plagues Emma the most be the catalyst that drives them apart?
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