The Stones of Mourning Creek

The Stones of Mourning Creek

4.9 11
by Diane Les Becquets

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When fourteen-year-old Francie befriends Ruthie, a black girl, amidst the rampant prejudice in their small town in 1960s Alabama, she suffers from the gruesome harassment of her white peers. But Ruthie demonstrates the humanity and love that helps Francie uncover the truth behind her mother’s death and deal with her father’s neglect and alcoholism.


When fourteen-year-old Francie befriends Ruthie, a black girl, amidst the rampant prejudice in their small town in 1960s Alabama, she suffers from the gruesome harassment of her white peers. But Ruthie demonstrates the humanity and love that helps Francie uncover the truth behind her mother’s death and deal with her father’s neglect and alcoholism.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
PW called the author of this first novel, set in Spring Gap, Ala., in 1966, "a writer to watch. The lyricism of the narrative and the well-developed relationship between the white heroine and an African-American girl, carries the novel." Ages 12-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This first novel, set in 1966 Spring Gap, Ala., pegs Les Becquets as a writer to watch. She orients readers in the deep South, where whites gamble on the outcome of bare-hand boxing between young black boys; the sheriff's buddy runs the town's gambling and drinking establishment; and the blossoming friendship between white narrator Francie and Ruthie, a black girl, labels Francie an outcast. Francie's mother relates the brief opening chapter, which hints at foul play: while the woman searches for Francie's alcoholic father one night, she hears the voice of a distressed child, shouts that the child should run, then loses consciousness (and her life). The rest of the novel is told from 14-year-0ld Francie's perspective, an intelligent, fair-minded viewpoint that will keep readers hooked. Francie first meets Ruthie after the heroine is bitten by a poisonous snake on the banks of Mourning Creek, and Ruthie alerts her mother, who provides a healing remedy. Gradually, Francie learns just how great an impact her mother had on the small community. If the various ties all leading back to the woman seem too carefully orchestrated, and some of the events and subplots melodramatic (an old flame of Francie's mother watches out for Francie; one villain is the source of all the town's evils), the lyricism of the narrative and the well-developed relationship between Francie and Ruthie carries the novel. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In the prologue of The Stones of Mourning Creek, the reader learns that racial tensions in Spring Gap, Alabama were uneasy in 1966. Francie Grove was dealing with that in a very personal way. Her mother had just died, her father was becoming an alcoholic and Francie, herself, was bitten by a cottonmouth. Had it not been for Ruthie Taylor's finding her and Mama Rae Taylor's healing touch, Francie would have surely died, too. The two girls, Francie, who is white, and Ruthie, who is black, become close friends and find the real meaning of friendship in the face of disaster. Francie basks and grows in the warm loving relationship that develops between her and the Taylor family. There she feels secure, even through the trauma of learning that her mother was murdered, as she helps Ruthie escape from a sexual assault. This gripping story realistically portrays life in the 1960s and offers today's youth a look at both the ugliness and beauty of people who tried to make life better for others. This is a must-read in a study of the Civil Rights era.
Six months ago, fourteen-year-old Francine's mother died. She and her father are grieving still and unable to communicate with each other. Francine has no friends until she meets Ruthie, a black girl of her own age. They become inseparable, despite the warnings of Francine's father. Gradually, Francine and Ruthie realize that they have the key to discovering what really happened the night Francine's mother died. Did she really lose her way in the woods? Or did something else happen? This story of girlhood friendship and growing up is also one of grief, loss, adventure, and mystery. It touches on issues of racism, dishonesty, the effects of war, and poverty. The writing is warm and sympathetic, handling these complex issues deftly. One significant problem for this reviewer, however, occurred when Francine's alcoholic father hits her. Francine's reaction is too mild. She pities her father but realizes that she will continue to do what she thinks is best. In the next chapter, they laugh and chat as if the blow never happened. Despite this flawed scene and a moderately predictable plot, this novel is an enjoyable tearjerker. This book is a natural choice for girls who might not be quite ready for To Kill a Mockingbird or who enjoyed Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 (Delacorte, 1995). The publisher's interactive Web site at offers worldwide links, games, activities and more for many books, but the only material on this novel at the time of publication was a plot outline and purchasing information. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7to 9). 2001, Winslow Press, 306p, $16.95. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Gillian Wiseman SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-In the dramatic prologue to this novel set in 1960s rural Alabama, 14-year-old Francie Grove's mother is murdered while attempting to save a black girl from rape. Around this pivotal event, the story unfolds of a town in the grip of an evil and powerful man, Harvey Mansfield, and the complicity of the local law-enforcement establishment that allows racism and violence to go unpunished. In her loneliness following her mother's death and subject to her father's alcoholic neglect, Francie grows increasingly attached to the black Taylor family, particularly Ruthie, who becomes her best friend after saving her from a deadly snakebite. This friendship and her father's hatred of Mansfield, whom he suspects is his wife's killer, alienate the Groves from their white neighbors and make them the prey of brutal attacks. When Francie discovers that Mansfield is running a gambling den where fights are staged between young black men to satisfy the blood lust of hard-drinking white male observers, a chain of events is set off that leads to a shattering climax in which Ruthie is killed. Despite much foreshadowing with incidents of cruelty and violence, readers will not be prepared for this outcome. Francie's loss and grief are devastating, and signs of hope are not convincing. Many subplots, including the growing love between Francie and a boy who lives in relative isolation with his outcast mother, the realization that Ruthie is the girl Francie's mother saved, and Francie's father's abrupt decision to marry the high school librarian, result in melodrama and some jarring implausibilities and coincidences. Mildred Bargler Herschler's The Darkest Corner (Front Street, 2001) offers a more effective and compelling portrayal of this theme.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On the heels of Kimberly Willis Holt and Kate DiCamillo comes another notable Southern voice. Like the others, Les Becquets deals with a small-town community. Spring Gap, Alabama, in 1966, however, is not a heart-warming or quirky town, but an insidious one, where civil rights have not yet reached and in which residents remain silent out of fear of retaliation from the sheriff and his posse. This silence hides the secrets of 14-year-old Francie Grove's mother's death. As Francie pieces together how her mother died, her life also becomes a struggle to deal with the town's rampant discrimination and racism. African-American Ruthie Taylor and her family become Francie's new family after saving her from a snakebite and while Francie's alcoholic father spends many nights away from home. For her friendship, Francie suffers taunting and even violence. Rooted against the hatred bred within the small town are Francie's resilience and her commitment to her friendship with Ruthie; to her first love, Earnest, the town bastard; and to the truth about her mother. Although Francie is 14 and not yet in high school, the story's realism, intensity, and violence make it more appropriate for older readers. This finely polished and suspenseful tour de force, with its shocking ending, will haunt readers long after the story is finished. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
12 - 14 Years

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The Stones of Mourning Creek 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I understand exactly why this is my favorite book. I have read over 250 teen books (i am a teenager), and this book has made so much emotion inside of me, its hard to understand until you read it. I feel like I have not lived life to the fullest until I have read this book...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book shook me to my core. I read it several years ago and it is still by far the best book i have ever read. From the plot to the characters to the setting it is in a word Powerful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was amazing, i just wish she could've written a book for Earnest's point of view. that'd make my year. i would tottaly read what it was like for him with the whole discrimination thing going on and then meeting Francie, a girl who actually takes interest in him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so touching I cried at the end. The plot and book is vey well written. Can't wait for more of Mrs. Becquets's books
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was supercalafragilisticsexpealadocious!!! it is the best biik i have ever read...honestly!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best! Normally I don't read mystery but this book deserved it. Though categorized under young adult, this book will entertain and haunt readers of all ages. Even if you manage to put the book down, the storyline and unforgettable characters will stay in your mind.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was outstanding!!! I loved it so much!!! It was good b/c it shows people trying 2 b friendz even when times are hard and what a good friend Ruthie has!!! It also shows how life is when you don't have a mom(sad)!!! I think all girls/ and or boys should read this book!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the best book ever!!!!! I couldn't put it down. It has a lot feeling in it. It also shows that friends help you get through things when not even your own dad cares about what you think. It's a very sad book. I cried a lot. I would deffinately recommend this book to anyone in the world!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very emotion provoking. Meaning that the book itself caused emotions to be stirred in the reader. Throughout the book, the author creates a very real story of a young white girl's life back during the time when black people were discriminated against and harmed. I highly recommend this book to anyone in search of a very real outlook of life in a book. I give it Five Stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Francie Grove is dealing with her mother's death when she learns an awful secret(but I can't tell you, you have to read the book and find out). She meets a new friend, who happens to be black, and recieves ridicule upon returning to school for her friendship with an outsider. Regardless of the taunts and jeers, Francie stands by her friend and learns the value of friendship. In the meantime, she falls in love, gets hurt (emotionally and physically), and becomes a better person inside for it. Diane Les Becquets does not tell you what you are seeing or imagining, but paints a picture of words for you. You can actually feel the pain and joy that the characters feel. You feel as if you were the one going through these times of trial and error. Three cheers for Diane and 'The Stones of Mourning Creek'.