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By Joel Gordon

GENRE: Drama

An introverted boy runs away from his family's estate, falling in with a mysterious gardener and extroverted runaway girl.  His eyes are opened to the emotional wasteland littered with school mates, Senegalese migrant workers, the cause of his mother's tragic death, and the stone called "father", enabling him to discover the secret surrounding his birth.


In this rite of passage family adventure, a natural drought plagues the Connecticut community of Old Cabbage in the 1950s. But an emotional drought has dried up the lives of moneyed WASPs, Willard and Ann Hunt and their three children. Richard and Jeanette can’t get away from their tyrannical father fast enough. Spouse Ann Mercer Hunt is in and out of rehab facilities for alcoholics, but predicts future events with jarring accuracy. Twelve year-old Ellery seizes his chance by hiding in the gardener’s pickup truck. He finds himself in a strange world.

Ellery enters the realm of the bearded, serene gardener whose spiritual power to harmonize with nature’s forces begins to soothe Ellery’s inner rage. As the drought worsens the man’s peace, strength and reverence for beauty and life awakens Ellery to the powers of growing wondrous vegetables and flowers amidst the wasteland caused by the killing drought.

He meets Jane, another runaway. Jane, like the ghost who opened Scrooge’s eyes in “A Christmas Carol”, opens Ellery’s eyes to an adult world of lost hope and suffering: Eli’s roadhouse, a living hell where lust, gluttony, pride and anger control the lives of customers and their children; the depressed, working class town of Nelliston with its colony of transplanted African immigrants fleeing the savagery of their desert country; Jane’s own school friends, a community of hyper-extended , rich but mechanistic kids who have been programmed by their parents’ drive for fast-tracking along politically correct lines.

Meanwhile, Ellery’s mother, Ann dies a spectacularly lonely, beautiful death, celebrated in a powerful scene of noble grief. An older sister, Jeanette, shames her father into searching for her brother. Willard marshals the forces of Puritanical law and order which target the weird gardener as the cause of the drought.

Opting to delay her return to college, Jeanette’s tireless efforts uncover a secret surrounding Ellery’s birth. Amidst the worsening drought, the righteous townsfolk led by her father wend their way out to Quoggers Point to confront the gardener. Now that Ellery is awake to the healing forces of compassion and understanding, the showdown between his father’s lust for punishment and Oliver’s determination to maintain peace and understanding bring Ellery to a crisis of choice.

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