True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins (The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins)


The lives of Lyndie B. Hawkins, daughter of a Vietnam Vet with a drinking problem and D.B., juvenile delinquent and foster child are about to cross paths.  Lyndie, her mother and father and dog Hoopdee have had to sell their house and move in with Lady and Grandpa Tad.  Lady runs the show with a list of infinite rules and schedules.  There's very little room for truth or love.

D. B. has had the good fortune to be fostered by Lyndie's new neighbors, the Spurlocks.  Their daughter, Dawn, is Lyndie's good friend and luckily is in her class at the Covenant Academy.  D.B. does not ever want to go back to the juvenile detention center that held him.  It's dangerous there.  Boys die there.

Lyndie is fighting battles.  At home she's up against her grandmother, Lady, who believes that eating a formal breakfast and talking about the weather will give a family the backbone and structure that can contain all pain and anger.  The family follows the guidance of never talking about what is really going on in the home.  Windows can smash and the smell of whiskey can invade every space but the formalities shall be honored and the secrets shall be kept.

At school Lyndie is assigned to a group project with three other students, D.B., Dawn and a third guy, Peewee.  Peewee is pretty much Lyndie's sworn enemy so Lyndie pairs off with D.B. to write his narrative meaning she has to get to know him pretty well and maybe even learn some of his secrets.

This is a story about how we tell our stories.  The stories of ourselves, our families our communities and even the story of our nation - our history.  Seems we don't always dig in and get to the real truth.  Seems to try to gloss over things that are just too painful to reveal or revisit.

Told in layers, this is a book that respects our children.  This is a book that isn't afraid to put it out there.  This is a revolution in print with a quilted cover.   It challenges each of us to know our truth and to face our truth whether it's in our family or in our community or in our history books.  Good things come when we are willing to feel the pain and bring the mistakes into the light.

This is be a tremendous read aloud in the 5th and 6h grade.

304 pages         978-0525428459         Ages 10-14

Keywords: courage; truth; grandmother; father/daughter; father; Vietnam War; mental health; mental illness; secrets; friendship; understanding others; American South; loyalty

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


***Four starred reviews!***

"A storytelling wonder."--starred review, Kirkus Reviews

A one-of-a-kind voice lights up this witty, heartwarming debut set in 1985 Tennessee about the power of homespun wisdom (even when it's wrong), the clash between appearances and secrets, and the barriers to getting help even when it's needed most.

Lyndie B. Hawkins loves history, research, and getting to the truth no matter what. But when it comes to her family, her knowledge is full of holes. Like, what happened to her father in the Vietnam War? Where does he disappear to for days? And why exactly did they have to move in with her grandparents?

Determined to mold recalcitrant Lyndie into a nice Southern girl even if it kills her, her fusspot grandmother starts with lesson number one: Family=Loyalty=keeping quiet about family secrets. Especially when it comes to Lyndie's daddy.

Then DB, a boy from the local juvenile detention center comes to stay with Lyndie's best friend, Dawn. He's as friendly and open as a puppy. There to shape up his act, he has an optimism that's infectious. But it puts Lyndie in direct opposition to her grandmother who'd rather keep up appearances than get her son the help he needs.--from the publisher

304 pages         978-0525428459         Ages 10-14

Keywords: courage; truth; grandmother; father/daughter; father; Vietnam War; mental health; mental illness; secrets; friendship; understanding others; American South; loyalty


Richie’s Picks: THE TRUE HISTORY OF LYNDIE B. HAWKINS by Gail Shepherd, Penguin Random House/Kathy Dawson Books, March 2019, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-525-42845-9


“Anger is a response that you learned early in life to help you cope with pain.”

“The only thing true and indisputable when you feel angry is that you are in pain and trying to do something about it.”

“Expressing anger temporarily helps you overcome feelings of helplessness and lack of control. But it disrupts relationships and makes you feel even more helpless and out-of-control--a vicious cycle.”

“There are many ways to discharge high levels of stress besides anger. Some of them are healthy, some are destructive.”

-- from WHEN ANGER HURTS: QUIETING THE STORM WITHIN by Matthew McKay, Ph.D., et al. (2003)

“We had no cameras

To shoot the landscape

We passed the hash pipe

And played our Doors tapes

And it was dark

So dark at night

And we held onto each other

Like brother to brother

We promised our mothers we’d write

And we would all go down together”

-- Billy Joel, “Goodnight Saigon” (1982)


“Mean Miss Smitty marches over holding a stack of math tests, reeking of mimeograph ink. She’s glaring at me. Obviously. I’m going to have to really buckle down if I want Miss Smitty to forgive my truancy.

‘Lyndon. The pastor will see you. He’s on the phone now with your grandmother.’ She pauses to let the horror of this sink in. ‘You can go in when he’s finished. D.B, we need to get you a Covenant Academy uniform. We have strict regulations. About hair too.’ She scrutinizes D.B. with no evidence of any goodwill. ‘The earring will have to go,’ she says. ‘You might as well take it off now. And denim is a forbidden fabric.’ She stalks off and rummages around in her desk.’

‘A forbidden fabric,’ D.B. chortles. ‘I like the whole notion of that.’ He tosses a red jujube into the air and catches it in his mouth.

‘So what’s D.B. stand for?’

‘Damned Brilliant.’ He fiddles with his earring, takes it off, drops it in his jacket pocket.

‘Not much evidence of that yet,’ I say. ‘More like, Dingle Berry?’

‘Very funny.’

‘What’s it stand for, then?’

‘Disturbed Boy.’

‘Oh. Well. I was thinking, you seem sort of well adjusted. Considering.’

‘It’s a ruse,’ he says, shrugging. He peels off his blue-jean jacket and folds it neatly over the back of his chair. He’s wearing a T-shirt printed with the words: Frankie Says Relax.

D.B. darts a glance around the office and lowers his voice. ‘So what do I need to know about Covenant Academy? Other than what fabrics are forbidden.’

‘What, Dawn didn’t fill you in?’

‘Dawn loves school. I need the quick and dirty.’”

In the fall of 1985, in Love’s Forge, Tennessee, seventh-grade history buff Lyndie B. Hawkins is spinning out of control. Her Vietnam vet father has lost his job and his behavior is becoming more and more erratic and dangerous. Her former war-protesting mother has been locking herself in her room, complaining of headaches. Her parents are forced to sell their house and the three of them move in with Lyndie’s paternal grandparents. As her father reminds her, Lyndie and her grandmother, Lady, have butted heads “from the first time she held you, and you puked on her new dress.”

On the positive side, Lyndie will be living close to her longtime best friend Dawn Spurlock. But she and Dawn haven’t been close lately, and now Dawn’s family is fostering a juvenile delinquent for the school year.

It turns out that that juvenile delinquent, D.B., is in desperate straits. He’d accidentally lit his former foster family’s house on fire and he’s since been incarcerated in Pure Visions Reform Academy, a juvenile reform facility that has repeatedly been under investigation because of teens dying there. He is attempting to be a perfect student and a perfect guest so that he can somehow manage to avoid returning to the dangerous reform school.

Both Lyndie and D.B. are under incredible levels of stress. Paired up in their Advanced English class for a term project, they will learn secrets about one another that can never be shared in their final presentations. Meanwhile, Lyndie and Lady go at it on a daily basis, as Lyndie’s father descends into a hell of alcohol and what we today refer to as post traumatic stress disorder. In response to being taunted, Lyndie gets angry enough to break a classmate’s nose.

In a preface that makes so much sense by time you’ve reached the end of the book, Lyndie muses about “honorable lying.” What is one to do when torn between loyalty to family and facing up to ugly truths that could tear your family to shreds?

Mix together a damaged vet, a hound dog, an injured fawn, some shoofly pie, an elderly lawyer, a couple of cops, a champion kickboxer, a good-hearted delinquent, a hot-headed young woman, and a couple of jaw-dropping surprises, and you have one of those books that will keep you up way, way past your bedtime, dying to know how it is all going to turn out.

Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS. California USA

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