This appealing story, set in southeastern West Virginia, is replete with vivid descriptive passages that help us feel the realities of life in a world Forde describes as deeply wooded, seriously mountainous and isolated. The central characters, former Bostonian Beatrice Desmond and her teen-age ward Clara Buckwalter–a somewhat unlikely pair brought together through a series of events–become increasingly aware that they are kindred spirits in a changeable world. Ms. Forde excels at providing characters that evoke strong responses from the reader, including Clara’s devious, self-absorbed mother Charyce, her self-righteous, perverse stepfather Rodney, and others considerably more palatable. The non-human creatures are endearing: Beatrice’s loyal, infinitely patient canine companion Ralph, the frisky young llama Bucky. (I really can’t recall the last time I read a book in which llamas were an integral part of the story). The drama is related from many views, creating a rich tapestry incorporating setting, events, and characters into the drama that unfolds. On the Hillwilla Road is a refreshing and thought-provoking book.