Meely LaBauve : Fifteen-year-old Meely La Bauve is growing up on Catahoula Bayou and living by his wits. His father is an alligator hunter, still unable to cope with the death of his wife eight years earlier. He finds comfort in bottles of hooch and with companionable women and disappears for days at a time. School, for Meely, is a long, dusty walk away in a place where truancy isn't a top priority. When the LaBauves find themselves in the law's sights, it takes baseball bats, fire ants, flying alligators, an unidentified body, and a lot of fast thinking to set things right. Not since Huck Finn rafted down the Mississippi has there been a coming-of-age story like this, told in such an utterly authentic, unlettered American voice. From a charming encounter with first love in the Canciennes' corn patch to an adventurous paddle through wild and timeless places little explored, Ken wells has cooked up a zesty gumbo of a book - rich, poignant, and often hilarious.