Penny Carlile was born in Marshall, Texas, and grew up, not coincidentally, on Rusk Street. She and her husband now divide their time between Marshall and Naples, Florida. Carlile earned her bachelor of arts in English and speech from Baylor University in 1973. She taught junior high school before she co-founded a direct sales company with her husband. It was during her time as president of the company that she wrote her first book, Points from Penny, a collection of inspirational messages for the company's sales force. The Girl on Rusk Street is fiction, but many of the events in the book are straight out of Carlile's own childhood.
When Lucille Harris, a beautiful young widow, moves into the vacant house on Rusk Street in Marshall, Texas, the lives of ten-year-old Bobbi Rogers and her two best friends are turned upside down. Neighbors begin to gossip when Lucille accepts a teaching position at all-black Bishop College and married neighbor Jim Tressell starts helping her with her garden. Bobbi takes piano lessons from Lucille, and they become friends. She also likes Jim because he's nice to Lucille. When Lucille is murdered, all eyes turn to Jim who has no alibi. Only two people believe he's innocent--his brilliant but inexperienced lawyer Rufus Cornelius and Bobbi. Set against the backdrop of the 1960 presidential election and the early days of the civil rights movement, The Girl on Rusk Street is a look back at what is sometimes called a "simpler time"--and it serves as a reminder that simpler times were often anything but simple.
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