Tension builds just below the surface of this energetic, seamlessly narrated first novel set in small-town Alabama in 1917. Twelve-year-old Harry, aka Dit, has been looking forward to the arrival of the new postmaster from Boston, said to have a son Dit's age. The "son" turns out to be a girl, Emma, and to everyone's surprise, the family is what Dit calls "colored" and others call "Negras." Emma, bookish and proud, impresses Dit with her determination (he calls it stubbornness) when she decides to learn to throw a ball or climb, and when Emma's mother upbraids him, Dit begins to rethink what he's been taught about the South's sorrowful defeat in the War Between the States. Levine sets up a climactic tragedy that will challenge the community's sense of justice; although hair-raising Mockingbird- esque events are becoming common in YA novels about inequality in the segregated South, Levine handles the setting with grace and nuance. Without compromising the virtues and vices of her characters, she lets her readers have a happy-enough ending. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Best Bad Luck I Ever Hadby Kristin Levine
In Moundville, Alabama, in 1917, twelve-year-old Dit hopes the new postmaster will have a son his age, but instead he meets Emma, who is black, and their friendship challenges accepted ways of thinking and leads them to save the life of a condemned man. See more details below
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In Moundville, Alabama, in 1917, twelve-year-old Dit hopes the new postmaster will have a son his age, but instead he meets Emma, who is black, and their friendship challenges accepted ways of thinking and leads them to save the life of a condemned man.
This spirited, early-20th-century coming-of-age story presents a small-town cast of well-drawn characters, an unlikely friendship, engaging adventures, and poignant realizations. When a new postmaster arrives in Moundville, AL, 12-year-old Dit is surprised to discover that Mr. Walker is African American and that his refined daughter knows nothing about baseball, hunting, or fishing. With his best friend gone for the summer and in search of companionship other than his nine siblings he reluctantly hangs out with proper, opinionated Emma, who tags along with him asking questions and trying to keep up. Gradually, Dit begins to respect her independence, intelligence, compassion, and determination. But the harsh realities of segregation and racist attitudes threaten their friendship and open Dit's eyes to injustice. After witnessing the town barber's self-defense shooting of the alcoholic and abusive sheriff, Dit and Emma hatch a plan to save the black man's life. Dit's episodic story resonates with youthful authenticity. Peer pressure and racial barbs weigh on his competitive but sensitive spirit. Dit's insular world expands on drives to Selma with Dr. Griffiths, when the influenza epidemic of 1918 invades Moundville, during his pa's shotgun vigil to protect neighbors from nightriders, and in his shared exploits and lively discussions with Emma. Adult characters offer a range of guidance, perspective, and tolerance that helps shape Dit's understanding of his world. Readers will find humor in his candid account, universality in his dilemmas and blunders, and inspiration in his friendship with Emma and their mutual desire for social justice.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of theArts, NC
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