Gr 7-10-Litwin does a good job of chronicling the highlights of her subject's life and considerable accomplishments, but she is less successful at conveying a sense of who Hamer was. Little is said about her personal life or her family, especially her husband, who seems to have suffered tremendously because of his wife's activism in the racially explosive Mississippi of the 1960s. Readers learn little of her two adopted daughters and the death of one of them from complications due to malnutrition. Still, Litwin conveys Hamer's integrity, honesty, and keen intelligence. The second book does an excellent job of placing Wright within the context of his times. Strongest when his own words are used to describe events, the book seamlessly weaves those words into a coherent and effective story line. Westen places emphasis on the writer's personal life and on his intellectual journey from an impoverished rural Mississippi childhood to self-imposed exile in Paris. Readers will gain knowledge not only of Wright's all too brief life, but will also get a sense of how the times impacted on the evolution of a gifted African American. If the biography has one fault, it is that it is too simplified, too cut and dry, avoiding the nuances and complexities that must have embodied Richard Wright. Still, it is an effective first look at an extraordinary American writer.-Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.