Buttermilk Hill

Ruth White

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Finding a way to cope through poetry

The days seem carefree for Piper Berry in her hometown of Buttermilk Hill, North Carolina -- days filled with fishing with her daddy and ten-year-old aunt/best friend Lindy and listening to her grandmother's stories. But then Mama, Tiny Lambert (whom readers may remember from Weeping Willow), announces she wants more out of life than being a housewife, and Daddy thinks this is unreasonable. He moves out and that ugly word d-i-v-o-r-c-e becomes a reality. Soon Mama's time becomes consumed with waiting tables and taking college classes. Daddy remarries, adopts two sons, and has a new baby daughter. Piper can't help but feel as if she doesn't belong anywhere anymore, and her only comfort is found in spending time with Lindy and their friend Bucky, whose life is full of his own share of family trouble. Piper's growing interest in and talent for poetry help her find a voice to say the things that are hardest and make an important decision about following her own dreams.


Read an Excerpt

From Buttermilk Hill

"There's got to be more than housecleaning and laundry, cooking and taking care of Piper, churchgoing and . . . and PTA!" Mama spit out each word like it put a bad taste in her mouth. "You couldn't stand my life for one day, Denver Berry, you know that?"
There was a pause before Daddy suggested, "You could work for Papa at the Tarheel."
Mama laughed. "No thank you, not interested."
"Just what are you interested in?" Daddy wanted to know.
"Well, it's not waiting on tables at a truck stop for tips. The Tarheel was your parents' dream, Denver. Now it's their


Praise for Buttermilk Hill

"More powerful still is White's poignant, compassionate exploration of the hopes and dreams that burn in the hearts of a small-town community in 1970's America." --Kirkus Reviews

"Subtly drawn backstories revealing the adults' unfulfilled dreams lend depth and individuality to their characterizations. Piper's worries about fitting in with her dad's new family...and about her mother's dating ring true as she tries to build her own sense of family amid the rancor and change. Her poetry...gives her both recognition and a sense of accomplishment that is hers alone." --The Horn Book

"The first-person narrative rings true...a good balance of happiness and hard knocks." --Booklist

"White knows her way around good, old-fashioned storytelling that leaves a lump in the throat and a warm feeling in the heart." --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"The writing - both Piper's poems and the author's narrative - pull the reader into life in the small town of Buttermilk Hill. One can smell the Tarheel Truck Stop owned by Piper's grandparents, see Piper's golden retriever...it is a highly recommended purchase." --VOYA

"The author authentically conveys Piper's feelings of confusion and ambivalence and, for kids buffeted by divorce, the book may be a salve." --Publishers Weekly

"Powerful."  --The Reading Teacher

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Ruth White

  • Ruth White is the author of many novels, including the Newbery Honor Book Belle Prater's Boy and its sequel, The Search for Belle Prater, as well as Weeping Willow, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Ms. White lives in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.
  • Ruth White Photo by Beth Agresta


Available Formats and Book Details

Buttermilk Hill

Ruth White

Rhode Island Children's Book Award Master List, NCTE Notable Child. Bks in Lang. A, South Carolina Children's Book Award Master List, Arizona Grand Canyon Young Readers Master List, Iowa Children's Choice Award Master List, West Virginia Children's Book Award Master List
  • Trade Paperback

  • e-Book




Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)