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May Belle comes to the bean patch to tell Jess that people are moving into "the old Perkins place down on the next farm." In Jess' opinion, the Perkins place is "one of those ratty old country houses you moved into because you had no decent place to go and moved out of as quickly as you could." For this reason, he does not get too excited about May Belle's announcement. Jess does take the time to pause in his bean picking and look over in the direction of the place, however, and notes that "one of those big jointed...U-Haul(s)" is parked right by the door of the neighboring house, which is visible from the bean patch. He notes that the people moving in have "a lot of junk," but dismisses them in his mind because he is convinced that "they wouldn't last."
The family that is moving in is, of course, Mr. and Mrs. Burke and their daughter Leslie. The family, which hails from the city, have come to live at the Perkins place because they want to give themselves a chance to experience a simpler style of living, and to "reassess their value system." Mrs. Burke is a writer, and Mr. Burke spends a lot of time working on the house, making it more appealing and personal. Leslie, who is in Jess's class at school, at first irritates him, but soon becomes the best friend he has ever had, the one person who affects his life in a way that will never be forgotten. In looking back later, Jess reflects on how "peculiar it was" that the Burkes' moving in, which "was probably the biggest thing in his life," should have been something which he initially "had shrugged...off as nothing" (Chapter 1).
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