Leaving Lymon

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A companion novel to Finding Langston, recipient of a Coretta Scott King Writing Honor and winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

Behind every bad boy is a story worth hearing and at least one chance for redemption. It's 1946 and Lymon, uprooted from his life in the Deep South and moved up North, needs that chance.

Lymon's father is, for the time being, at Parchman Farm--the Mississippi State Penitentiary--and his mother, whom he doesn't remember all that much, has moved North. Fortunately, Lymon is being raised by his loving grandparents. Together, Lymon and his grandpops share a love of music, spending late summer nights playing the guitar.

But Lymon's world as he knows it is about to dissolve. He will be sent on a journey to two Northern cities far from the country life he loves--and the version of himself he knows. In this companion novel to the Coretta Scott King Honor wining Finding Langston, readers will see a new side of the bully Lymon in this story of an angry boy whose raw talent, resilience, and devotion to music help point him in a new direction.---from the publisher

208 pages                    978-0823444427                     Ages 8-12

Keywords:  historical fiction, African American, African American author, journey, finding yourself, grandparents, death and dying, racism, prejudice, prison, bully, music, anger, resilience, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old

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Lymon, has music in his bones, and he also has many strikes against him making life a huge challenge as he grows into young adulthood.

Young Lymon Is an African American boy living in 1940s Mississippi with his loving, guitar-playing grandpops and ever disgruntled grandmother, called Ma. Lymon’s has a mother in Chicago, but he’s told she is flighty and when Lymon was born to his teenaged mother, Daisy, she abandoned him.

She left Mississippi and moved to Chicago, and started herself another family;

Grady is Lymon’s biological father, who is incarcerated at Parchman a prison camp with unspeakable bad conditions. Parchman is Mississippi’s oldest maximum security prison. Grady is a good man who loves his son , but when he gets out of prison, he proves to be flighty as well.

As you see Lymon has a tough life. He is a likeable child and worthy of so much more yet Lymon seems to attract negativity. When Grandpops dies and Ma sickens from diabetes, the relatives can no longer afford Lymon’s upkeep. They send him to Chicago to live with Daisy, her two sons, and her husband, Robert, who beats Lymon regularly. After Lymon takes money from Robert, the money sent by an aunt for his upkeep, the police send him to a boys’ home, which proves to be a turning point in his life.

Cline-Ransome is a new author for me and I recognize masterful storytelling and will read more of her work. I predict Middle school readers will be engaged in the hard life of Lymon Caldwell while learning about historical racial biases in the penal system, the plight of children during the Great Migration, the discrimination faced by Northern blacks, and more. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
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