Published January 1,2012
Hardcover, 208 pages
In the summer of 1964, when Glory (Gloriana) will turn twelve, things change. Her older sister, Jesslyn, who is fourteen, is too busy with her new boyfriend and no longer has time for Glory. Frankie, Glory's best friend, is suddenly not of the same opinion when the town starts to get riled up about whether to keep the segregated pool open. Frankie has to put up with a bigot older brother and father, and also deal with Glory's new friendship with Laura, a girl from the North, whose mother is a civil rights worker.
Lots going on in this debut book of a story that revolves around racial issues, friendships, relationship between siblings, and standing up for what is right. My daughter and I really enjoyed reading this novel together because it opened up many discussions about discrimination, whether racial, religious or cultural. My daughter says she learned a lot about what it must have been like when white people were prejudiced against blacks. I like using books to expose her to history in a way that is enjoyable.
She also liked Glory's character because she stood up for her friend Laura and also spoke up about how she felt regarding the pool's closure. It's true that Glory is opinionated and outspoken and this makes her admirable, but I did raise my eyebrows when she wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper using disrespectful words, such as stupid, dumb, backward and ignorant, to describe the townspeople . The letter was never published but it was finally read to her father, who is a preacher, and he praised Glory. I can certainly understand his pride in her standing up for what she believes, but as a parent I don't want to convey the message that it's okay to call people names because they have a wrong viewpoint.
The setting of Mississippi in the summer of 1964 is rich and the author managed to convey it well with language and real-life events she experienced growing up in the South. Expressions such as, “It's so hot I can hardly spit.” (p.2) or “Last one in's a monkey's uncle.” (p.6) and “Who's coming to this shindig?” (p.185), had me and my daughter smiling. My kids love our Community pool and we could therefore relate to the way Glory was feeling.
This book would make a good choice for a mother/daughter book club because of all the issues it raises. Glory is a motherless girl being raised by her father and her black housekeeper who she loves, and who slowly helps her understand the changes happening in their small town. It was an insightful book for my daughter and a good springboard to some deep discussions about what it means to respect another person: black, white, ignorant or educated.
Note: This book is rated C = clean read.
Reviewed by Laura
Disclosure: Thanks to Nikole Kritikos from Scholastic for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.
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