Yankee Girl

Yankee Girl

This powerful novel, the author’s first, tells the story of eleven-year-old Alice Ann Moxley, whose FBI-agent father has been assigned to Jackson, Mississippi, to protect Black people as they register to vote. Jackson in 1964 is nothing like Chicago: the heat is intense, the air is thick and heavy, Black people are treated as if they are inferior (“What a dumb idea, white people thinking they were better than black people,” Alice Ann thought before she landed in the South and learned the “dumb idea” was the norm), and Yankees are regarded as rather peculiar outsiders. Even the neighbor boy who befriended Alice shortly after her family’s arrival avoids her once school starts–late this year, because of uncertainties surrounding the school’s planned integration. Alice finds making friends more difficult than she had bargained for; and when she turns to Valerie, the only Black girl in her class, it is obvious that she is not interested in friendship with anyone. Alice finds herself torn between wanting to fit in and doing the right thing–but it takes a tragedy to open her eyes. Real headlines beginning the chapters and frequent mention of the Beatles give a feel for the time period. Rodman's book is refreshing for the honest portrayal of the atmosphere in the South, without giving in to the temptation to “sanitize” the ugly reality of racial prejudice. An extraordinary novel. Ages 10-14 Recommended by Basya Karp, Librarian, New York, USA

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