Every summer, Glorianna June Hemphill (Glory) celebrates her Fourth of July birthday at the community pool, and she expects this summer to be no different. But it’s the summer of 1964 in Hanging Moss, Mississippi, and change is coming. To Glory’s dismay, the pool is closed “for repairs,” which is another way of saying that the town fathers want to keep it segregated. That change, combined with the arrival of volunteers running a free health clinic for Negroes, brings tumult to this small Southern town.
Glory’s father is a widowed, absentminded pastor at the local church, so Glory has been raised by Emma, the family’s loyal housekeeper. Her older sister, Jesslyn, who used to be so fun, now wants to spend time with her friends and talk about the football team. Glory’s best friend, Frankie, suddenly starts talking about his hatred of Yankees and Negroes, influenced by his father and abusive older brother. When Glory visits Miss Bloom, the librarian, she meets Laura Lampert, whose mother is running the health clinic during the summer. Although Laura is a Yankee from Ohio, the girls have much in common and begin working together at the town library. Miss Bloom encourages Glory to write a letter to the editor about the community pool’s closure, and she does, bringing attention and trouble from busybody Mrs. Simpson and other people in town.
Tensions come to a boil when Laura is accused of vandalizing the pool and Jesslyn’s new boyfriend is attacked at the Fourth of July parade because he once sat with a colored friend at a lunch counter. Miss Bloom invites all who helped with the parade to a party at the library, including many Negroes, to the dismay of Mrs. Simpson. Glory and her father stand up to Mrs. Simpson and welcome everyone to the library. Glory realizes that some people will not change their views of segregation and that others are simply afraid of change. As summer ends and moves to fall, she realizes that it’s hard to grow up – whether for a whole town or for one young girl.
Augusta Scattergood grew up in the Mississippi Delta and her love for her home shows through. Readers will feel like they are experiencing summer in the Deep South, complete with peach pie, mosquitoes and the overwhelming heat. Scattergood writes of the conflicts honestly, providing reasons for people’s behavior. These details create a sense of immediacy that bring the struggle for civil rights to life for readers and provide an introduction to this turning point in our history.
Reviewed by : CTB
Themes : HISTORY, PREJUDICE, FRIENDSHIP
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- "Scattergood’s effective snapshot of the fight against segregation, one town at a time, makes personal the tumultuous atmosphere of the times." – Publisher
- "This moving, intimate look at America’s struggle for civil rights, as seen through the narrow lens of one growing girl, will spark interesting discussion." – Booklist
- "This coming-of-age story offers a fresh, youthful perspective on a pivotal civil rights period…Glory is an appealing, authentic character whose unflinching convictions, missteps, and reflections will captivate readers." – School Library Journal
- "The author does an amazing job of presenting all the issues of racial integration during the 1960s while still maintaining the eleven-year-old point of view." – Children
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
- Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Might Miss Malone. Wendy Lamb Books, 2012.
- Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1960.
- Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Amistad, 2010.