Zora! The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin. Clarion, $17.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-547-00695-6
This accessible and entertaining biography of the gifted, energetic, and ambitious African-American author of Their Eyes Were Watching God engages the dreams, challenges, and accomplishments of Hurston, who garnered some recognition during her lifetime, but achieved fame only after her death. Beginning with a striking scene of the 59-year-old Hurston, already a well-known author, working as a white family’s domestic helper because she needed a paycheck, the Fradins (Stolen into Slavery) establish the complexities of Zora’s inner and external worlds, before offering highlights of her life in chronological order. These include her idyllic childhood in the all-black town of Eatonville, Fla.—where she read books, played baseball, and listened to “lying sessions” (storytelling) at the general store—as well as her decade spent as a working college student, her tumultuous friendship with Langston Hughes, literary ventures, anthropological research, three short-lived marriages, and late-life poverty. Photographs of family, friends, and patrons (including one of Zora and her car, “Sassy Susie”) add resonance, as does her own voice, in quotations from letters and her autobiography. Zora’s creative, hopeful, and complicated personality shines through this compelling profile. Ages 9–12. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/06/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
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