The $66 Summer: A Novel of the Segregated South by John Armistead, Fran Gregory |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The $66 Summer: A Novel of the Segregated South

The $66 Summer: A Novel of the Segregated South

by John Armistead, Fran Gregory
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

More than anything else, George Harrington wants a motorcycle. He works in his grandmother's store in Obadiah, Alabama, trying to save enough money for the precious bike. Esther Garrison works at the store, too, trying to earn money for a dream of her own — to continue her education. George, Esther, and Esther’s brother Bennett quickly become friends,

Overview

More than anything else, George Harrington wants a motorcycle. He works in his grandmother's store in Obadiah, Alabama, trying to save enough money for the precious bike. Esther Garrison works at the store, too, trying to earn money for a dream of her own — to continue her education. George, Esther, and Esther’s brother Bennett quickly become friends, even though George is white and the Garrisons are black. The three spend their time together sneaking onto Mr. Vorhise’s property to fish and search for outlaw treasure, avoiding his vicious dogs and the strange old woman who seems to stalk them. George, Esther, and Bennett find more than fish on Mr. Vorhise's land — they stumble onto chilling evidence that shatters their idyllic summer and the town’s peaceful surface. As the tragic events unfold, George must confront the ugly realities of racism, realities that force him to rethink his priorities. John Armistead’s memorable, carefully drawn characters capture the hope and heartbreak of a turbulent era.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A 13-year old is introduced to the devastating effects of racism while spending the summer with his grandmother in 1955 Alabama. "Armistead's honest dialogue and believable characterizations add resonance to the timeless theme of injustice," wrote PW. Ages 8-13. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in 1955 Alabama, this carefully developed first novel explores a white boy's introduction to the devastating effects of racism. The summer he turns 13, George yearns to earn enough money to buy a motorcycle and ends up staying in Obadiah with his grandmother, earning a dollar a day at her store. There he becomes reacquainted with some of the folks who live near or on his grandmother's land: two "colored" children, Esther and Bennett, whose father, Staple, ran off unexpectedly a few years ago; George's alcoholic, bigoted father's old friend, scary Mr. Vorhise, who raises fighting dogs; and Auntie Hoosilla, a disfigured old woman reputed to be a witch. Although the book is somewhat slow-going at first, introducing the players and establishing their views on race, none of it is superfluous. Stories told to George by friends and relatives provide clues about Staple's unexplained departure, a mystery that gradually becomes the central focus. Armistead's honest dialogue and believable characterizations add resonance to the timeless theme of injustice. The climax, conveying the tragic fate of Esther's and Bennett's father, will leave a searing impression. Ages 8-13. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Norah Piehl
It is the summer of 1955, and thirteen-year-old George Harrington wants a motorcycle more than just about anything: "That night in bed, motorcycles roared up and down in my mind." To save up enough money to buy one, he travels to Obadiah, Alabama, to work at his grandmother's country store and gas station for the summer. There, he grows closer to Esther Garrison (also a character in Armistead's The Return of Gabriel) and her brother, Bennett. George's father, a racist, has tried unsuccessfully to instill his prejudiced ideas into George. George's friendship with the African-American Garrisons, however, challenges those beliefs, especially when their discoveries about what really happened to Esther's missing father tears the lid off the racism that surrounds them all. George's increasing maturity, combined with the wisdom of his anti-segregationist grandmother, enables him to face these challenges with a sense of responsibility and fairness. This coming-of-age story, infused with details of the segregationist South, is a rich portrayal of friendship and of one boy's awakening to issues of injustice and inequality.
VOYA - Voya Reviews
This slim novel, set in 1950s rural Alabama, attempts to blend a gripping story of racial prejudice with a mystery, sacrificing both as the tale struggles with what it wants to be. When thirteen-year-old George spends the summer with his grandmother to avoid his parents' marital problems, he starts out fishing in a forbidden pond with his long-time friends, Esther and Bennet, children of his grandmother's African American servant. This small-town, lazy-summer feeling quickly fades when the kids stumble upon evidence that Esther and Bennet's father was murdered by a white farmer. The struggle to bring the killer to justice engenders a jumble of emotions that leaves none of the characters satisfied. George faces his own father's drinking, prejudice, and role in covering up the crime. He witnesses Esther and Bennet's pain when they uncover what happened, yet George leaves without much resolution to what these issues meant to him. When George gives up money that he was saving for a motorcycle to send Esther to high school in another town, readers never know whether he has sacrificed his dream of owning the motorcycle as well. Esther and Bennet seem quickly to resolve themselves to sharing a small town with their father's murderer, who is allowed to remain unpunished. There is little exposition about the segregated South of the '50sto explain to young readers why there is a "colored balcony" in the theater, nor is the tenement housing system where Esther and Bennet live fully clarified. The novel is too brief for readers actually to absorb the implications, and the story does not satisfy either as a mystery or a drama. Better books about young people coming to terms with prejudice include TheFriendship by Mildred Taylor (Dial, 1987), The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (Bantam, 1997), and Life. Is. Not. Fair. by Gary W. Bargar (Clarion, 1984). VOYA CODES: 2Q 3P M J (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Milkweed Editions, Ages 12 to 15, 234p, $15.95, $6.95 pb. Reviewer: Hillary Theyer
KLIATT
Set in rural Alabama about 45 years ago, this solidly plotted novel reveals one young white boy's season of insight and moral growth. George comes to spend the summer with his grandmother after nearly drowning in a boat accident precipitated by his father's drunkenness. In addition to earning money toward a small motorbike by helping his grandmother to run her country store, George plans to spend his summer hanging out with his black friend Bennett and putting up with Bennett's somewhat older and bossy sister Esther. Armistead familiarizes us with these characters' personalities and temperaments, as well as various town and country folk, black-and-white, peculiar and apparently normal. Then the story begins to speed up as the grandmother's neighbor shows his mean and racist side, a dog disappears, and the children find what seem to be the remains of Esther and Bennett's absent father. Compelling subplots revolve around Esther's desire to continue her education beyond the limits available to black teens in that time and place, and the role of the church in providing when the government has failed. Unfortunately, Gregory's few gray wash illustrations lend nothing to the text and make the book appear to be for younger audiences than those who will derive the most from the story. Armistead doesn't clutter his tale with anachronisms but contemporary readers will get a clear view of why race relations needed to change during this crucial time in American and Southern history. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Milkweed, 213p, 21cm, 99-045464, $6.95. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Francisca Goldsmith; Teen Svcs., Berkeley P.L., Berkeley, CA, November 2000(Vol. 34 No. 6)
KLIATT - Jay Wise
At 13, George Harrington wants nothing more than to earn the $65 he needs to buy a used motorcycle. As he spends the summer of 1955 working for his grandmother in the small town of Obadiah, AL, George renews his friendship with Bennett and Esther, the teenage children of Grandma's African-American cook/store clerk, Elizabeth Garrison. As the teens fish and work together, George helps unravel the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Bennett and Esther's father and the possibility that Grandma's hired hand might be responsible. Subplots add depth to the tale, particularly Esther's desire to be the first member of her family to attend high school, as well as the slow breakdown of George's parents' marriage because of his father's alcoholism and prejudice against blacks. This thought-provoking story, winner of the Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature, features short chapters, lyrical writing, and strong pacing. Themes of hard work, love, and sacrifice set against the backdrop of segregation make this book an ideal choice for middle school social studies units. Pair this fine novel with Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963.
School Library Journal
Set in 1955 Alabama, this carefully developed first novel explores a white boy's introduction to the devastating effects of racism. The summer he turns 13, George yearns to earn enough money to buy a motorcycle and ends up staying in Obadiah with his grandmother, earning a dollar a day at her store. There he becomes reacquainted with some of the folks who live near or on his grandmother's land: two "colored" children, Esther and Bennett, whose father, Staple, ran off unexpectedly a few years ago; George's alcoholic, bigoted father's old friend, scary Mr. Vorhise, who raises fighting dogs; and Auntie Hoosilla, a disfigured old woman reputed to be a witch. Although the book is somewhat slow-going at first, introducing the players and establishing their views on race, none of it is superfluous. Stories told to George by friends and relatives provide clues about Staple's unexplained departure, a mystery that gradually becomes the central focus. Armistead's honest dialogue and believable characterizations add resonance to the timeless theme of injustice. The climax, conveying the tragic fate of Esther's and Bennett's father, will leave a searing impression. Ages 8-13. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781571316639
Publisher:
Milkweed Editions
Publication date:
05/10/2006
Series:
Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature
Edition description:
Second Edition
Pages:
213
Sales rank:
1,127,061
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
8 - 13 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >