John Holtz was one of those uk-oh babies born to midforties parents. His mother considered an abortion, but his sister Nancy, a devout Catholic, nixed that. Nancy encouraged her parent to engage an au pair from Germany when John was four years old. That turned out to be a godsend. John graduated from high school at age twelve and prepared to enter college. Assisting his sister in working on a PhD from Harvard, their lives entwine with a Smoky Mountain family in North Carolina while doing research there. John’s brilliant mind causes him to be arrested at ten years old; he becomes a sawmill owner at twelve and almost loses his life when his adult actions help break up a drug ring. John Holtz never had the luxury of being a child.