In the summer of 1964, living was anything but easy in Mississippi. It was the Freedom Summer and trouble and change were brewing. For Gloriana June Hemphill, turning twelve on the Fourth of July turned out to be least significant day of the year.
Augusta Scattergood's Glory Be is a historical novel based on the author's memories of the difficult years of the civil rights movement in the Deep South. In the story, geared to middle grade readers, Glory's awakening takes place over the course of a few weeks, after she meets her first Yankee, Laura, who is in town for the summer while her mother, a nurse, is opening a free clinic.
Although Laura is quiet and "didn't talk a bit like [Glory] was used to," the girls discover they have a lot in common, such as a love for Nancy Drew and listening to the Beatles. When Glory's best friend, Frankie, reveals his prejudices (of blacks and northerners) and the town council closes the community pool rather than integrate it, Glory begins to take a hard look at the world around her.
It's clear that Scattergood is writing about the era from firsthand experience. She has the details just right, not just the Archie comic books and record players but also the carefree days when kids played outside largely unsupervised by adults. Although most readers will relate to Glory and her sister and will hope that Frankie comes to his senses, it's Emma, the Hemphill's housekeeper, who is particularly sensitively portrayed. Scattergood skillfully shows how Emma must walk a fine line between wanting her full rights and being well aware that "A fish that never opens his mouth won't get caught" (p. 75).
Part coming of age and part historical snapshot, Glory Be will have a wide appeal to both young readers and adults. It's no wonder that it was chosen as a Scholastic Mother Daughter Book Club pick. The ten insightful discussion questions available from the publisher touch on the major themes, including friendship, sisters, prejudice, and standing up for what you believe. In addition, the "Author Note" at the end of the book is a good springboard for talking about the American civil rights movement of the mid-1960s.
Check out the Scholastic Mother Daughter Book Club page to learn more about author Augusta Scattergood and to find an easy recipe for lemon cookies, a treat featured in Glory Be. While you're there, be sure to look over the other book club selections. I'll be reviewing most of the titles in the weeks to come and will be hosting a great giveaway in early June. Scattergood talked with NPR's Scott Simon about her childhood experiences and how they informed Glory Be. This review will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.
Published by Scholastic, Inc. / Scholastic Press, 2012
Source: Review (see review policy)
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