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Almost thirteen-year-old Francie finds it difficult to tolerate the inequities that her time, place, and race impose on her, and she speaks up for herself in scenes that will bring Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry to mind. From the first sentence, straightforward Francie owns up to her transgressions but doesn't let others off easily ("I did something to that cat, I admit it. But that cat did something to me first"). It helps that Francie and her mother and younger brother believe that their days in rural Alabama in the early 1950s will soon be behind them: their father has promised to send for them when his job as a Pullman porter in Chicago permits it. In the meantime, Francie suffers constant injustices when she accompanies her mother at her domestic jobs for white folks; when her overworked, frustrated mother lashes out against her; when she is falsely accused of lying and stealing in the white-owned drugstore. But at school, book-loving Francie shines, and she is called on to teach sixteen-year-old Jesse Pruit to read. Despite Jesse's lack of schooling, he dreams of a place called California on the Pacific Ocean: "I'ma go there one day-where they grow oranges on trees." He struggles to master even the elementary alphabet with Francie's help; her help becomes far more vital-and dangerous-when Jesse is accused of the attempted murder of a white man and hides out to escape capture. Readers will cheer Francie and her brave mother, from whom she inherits her rare and honest gutsiness. English never makes things easy for this resilient household and the secondary characters whom she also brings to life. When the long-awaited letter finally arrives, it's not from Daddy; it's from Jesse: "just a picture postcard. Of an orange grove." Bravo. s.p.b.