Monday, October 17, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Zora and Me

Over the summer I participated in a reading diverse challenge, and one of the books I read was Zora and Me, published in 2010. As a lover of middle grade books, especially those with a historical twist, this book drew me in simply because it is those two things. But Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon not only weave a fictionalized story arising from Zora Neale Hurston's childhood, but they place readers into the time and place of Zora's childhood. That place is Eatonville, Florida, the United States' first incorporated black township. A place where black inferiority had no place. This story is told through the eyes of Zora's friend Carrie, and we see how turn-of-the-century views affect growing up and living at this time and how they are part of the fabric of who we are today.

The premise: A young black man named Ivory, who is not from Eatonville, is murdered near Eatonville. Zora thinks she knows what happened and tells her story to anyone willing to listen. Her story is tied to a man she says is half-gator and prowls the near-by marshes, searching for prey. When Zora, Carrie, and their friend Teddy walk into the truth of the murder, however, they discover that truth is more brutal and ugly than the story Zora imagined.

What keeps readers reading: A web of lies that unravels. As Zora, Carrie, and Teddy investigate this murder and try to find the gator man, they encounter life outside their beautiful, safe little town. And what they find is racial divide. A coming-of-age story, Zora and Me melds all things great in middle grade fiction - a solid plot, characters who certainly are characters, and a setting you sit in - all while giving readers a look into who we are and from where we have come.

Other MMGMers and their choices this week:
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Happy middle grade reading!   

16 comments:

  1. Wow! This sounds like a great book and I never heard of it. Thanks for reviewing it.

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  2. Oooh. A web of lies that unravels. Intriguing, that.

    I've heard of this, of course, even shelved it a few times, but have yet to actually pick it up and read it. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  3. I'm saving this even though it doesn't seem like it has any magic in it, I like the premise. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I love spreading word about a book people haven't heard about or saw but didn't pick up.

    Akoss, what Zora thinks she saw gives the book a bit of a fantasy flair. It's a unique bend.

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  5. MG, history, and mystery. Now there's a winning combination!

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  6. Thanks for the recommendation, Barbara!

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  7. Thanks for the recommendation! Sounds like an intriguing book.

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  8. I read and reviewed this a while ago and totally loved it. It even inspired me to try my hand at historical fiction. The book was delightful! I thought it was interesting how Zora Hurston's family endorsed this book.

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  9. Interesting they created a fictional story about Zora Neale Hurston's childhood. I'm intimidated to write historical fiction, but I'll definitely read and recommend HF to others.

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  10. It's a cool read. Pam, I'm gonna look up your review; I missed that one.

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  11. Barbara, what a great review. I really appreciate what you are doing here; I am a YA writer/high school teacher so I don't hear as much as I would like to about MG. This is awesome.

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  12. Having Hurston as the protagonist in a book sounds amazing!

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  13. Oh, I *love* Middle-Grade Mondays! I keep meaning to jump in and do Monday reviews, too, and my life is just too sporadic and nutso lately. :-)

    So nice to meet you, Barbara!!! Thanks for finding me!

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  14. It's still Monday, at least in my brain--this is a great-sounding book.

    I'll have a bunch of historical fiction to share after the Cybils, Barbara. I am really quite surprised at how much historical was published last year!

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  15. This sounds excellent. Very much looking forward to reading it now so added it to the TBR's! Thanks!

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