We had a nice Christmas and have been busy eating too much food and playing a Wii that Santa delivered. Since I only get a small amount of time on the Wii compared to a few other people, I have been able to get a little leisure reading done, although not as much as I would like.
This morning I finished A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg. I had read the author's note in the back and what inspired her to write this novel about an African American girl growing up in the Mississippi Delta in the early 1960s. Burg's own father practiced law in the South in an effort to promote equal rights between the races. Addie Pickett, the protagonist of this novel, is growing up in the South attending the local Negro junior high school. Her mother works as a maid and she and her brother live with her mother and uncle in a poor section of town. It is evident in all aspects of this story that African Americans were treated poorly - Addie and her mother must listen as Mrs. Tate (her mother's boss) and her friends discuss African Americans in front of them, their section of town is without electricity, and when African Americans are accused of a crime, the evidence does not always matter. Addie's brother, Elias, flees town after he is involved in a scuffle with a white boy, and Addie's Uncle Bump is accused of a crime she is certain he did not commit. I wasn't drawn into this story immediately which surprised me. I am not sure if it was because I only find time to read such short snippets that I never really felt connected to the characters. It also felt almost as though it were set in a different time period than Sharon Draper's book Fire From the Rock that I reviwed in November, and which is set in the same era. After I finally found a hunk of time to read yesterday I was able to really get into this story and wanted to keep reading. Uncle Bump's trial also adds suspense, and I was interested to see the presence of the NAACP at his trial. There are a few other surprises along the way in this book - what happens to Elias after he flees town and the truth about Addie's father's death are two revelations.
I would recommend this book to any middle school reader. It is an interesting book that also shares the inequalities blacks continued to face long after slavery ended.
Next up are a stack of picture books I haven't made time for and my blog on the Des Moines Register website where I review the best adult books I have read this year.