Debut authors Bond and Simon do their subject proud, spinning a tale about the childhood of writer Zora Neale Hurston, who "didn't have any trouble telling a fib or stretching a story for fun." So says her friend Carrie Brown, who narrates this novel as an adult looking back on a tumultuous and momentous autumn. Set at the beginning of the 20th century in Hurston's childhood home of Eatonville, Fla., one of the nation's first all-black towns, the story follows Carrie and Zora as events—including the gruesome deaths of two men—fuel Zora's imagination and love of storytelling; the truth behind one of the deaths proves more difficult for Carrie to accept than Zora's frightening yet mesmerizing stories of the supernatural man-gator she claims is responsible. The maturity, wisdom, and admiration in Carrie's narration may distance some readers from her as a 10-year-old ("The bad things that happen to you in life don't define misery—what you do with them does"). Nevertheless, the authors adeptly evoke a racially fraught era and formative events—whether they're true or true enough—in Hurston's youth. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/27/2010 Release date: 10/01/2010 Genre: Children's
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