Although I studied literature in college, when I read a book now, I’m reading purely for pleasure. This often leads to my being carried away by the great story and failing to notice the wonderful words with which it is being told. Susan McCarthy’s book grabbed me from the very beginning with her poetic language and made me notice the beautiful way it was told throughout, even amid the captivating story.
The story focuses on Reesa, a girl — not quite a young woman — growing up with her Northern family in Florida during all the race tensions of the late 1940s. It begins with the Ku Klux Klan mistaking her family’s good friend, Marvin, a black teenager, for someone else. He is brutally beaten and left to die. This is the story of trying to bring justice for his death in a time and place where the county sheriff had his own white robe hanging in his closet. Through Reesa’s story, and that of her brave family, we see how things were in Florida during this scary time when the Klan was taking action against blacks registering to vote and fighting for their constitutional rights.
This book has a little bit of history; a little bit of coming of age; a little bit of citrus and Florida and tourism; a little bit of baseball; a little bit of it all. It’s funny. Happy. Sad. Exciting. Scary. And I loved every page of it.
Rated: Moderate. There is no sexual content. There is a wide range of swearing, maybe 30 times, the f-word only once. The swearing almost seems necessary to describe what these people were going through and who the Klansmen were, and, oftentimes, as might be expected, the horrible men in the Klan themselves are the ones using the raw language.