Friday, January 20, 2012
Glory Be, written by Augusta Scattergood. Scholalstic, 2012. $18.99 ages 10 and up
Again awake in the middle of the night, I started reading this book to keep me company and to keep mind my off my inability to get that beauty sleep. I can tell you that I found it quite engaging and I finished it in quick time. I had read The Help by Kathryn Sprockett this summer before seeing the movie. This book reminded me of that story but for the middle grade reader. On the back cover, Katheryn Erskine (author of mockingbird and the absolute value of mike ) said almost the same thing:
"Glory Be is a lovely debut novel for younger readers, akin to Kathryn Sprockett's The Help - an important read that raises powerful racial issues of the 1960s American South."
It is an unbearably hot summer in Mississippi and Glory is inconsolable when she learns that the swimming pool is to be closed. The town council says it is in need of repairs, but Glory knows better. She knows that many of the fearful and bigoted people in her small town do not want things to change. Change is inevitable and Glory is caught up in those changes. As the story moves forward, she finds her voice as an activist for the rights of all people, despite her young age.
Glory gives a feisty, first-person account of that summer when things began to change. She has been waiting for her 4th of July twelfth birthday, a day always celebrated at the pool with her friends. This year it is not going to happen. What does happen in a few short days make for a story that will keep readers turning the pages.
There are a number of characters who play an important role for Glory. Her older Jesslyn is becoming more interested in her friends and boys than she is in her younger sister. It is a change that has a profound effect on Glory and has her wondering about the new boy in town and Jess' interest in him. Glory meets a new girl at the library who is in town for the summer while her mother nurses at a free clinic. She and Laura work together in the library with Miss B, a free-thinking librarian who encourages everyone to come and borrow books.
Emma is the family's African-American maid whose warmth and guidance is a beacon to the Hemphill family. She encourages the girls not to worry about things they can't fix, but is proud of Glory when she writes a letter to the editor expressing her concerns about the pool and the real reason for closing it. Joe Hemphill, the girls' father, is a preacher and an upstanding citizen of Hanging Moss, Mississippi. His pride in his daughters is evident and he offers support for their actions and opinions despite the growing concern of some of his parishoners. Frankie is a young boy caught in the middle, between loyalty to his racist father and brother and to his best friend Glory.
It's a summer of discovery for many.