cover image The Starplace

The Starplace

Vicki Grove. Putnam Publishing Group, $17.99 (214pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23207-7

Grove (Reaching Dustin) cuts social commentary with a hint of mystery in this story set in small town Quiver, Okla., during the early '60s. Although the local junior high is not officially segregated, it remains all white until an African-American girl, Celeste Chisholm, and her professor father move into the old Teschler place, a rambling house reputed to be haunted. Celeste's enrollment causes a rift among students, and for the first time, narrator Frannie Driscoll becomes aware of the strong undercurrent of prejudice in her community. Celeste's cruel reception jolts Frannie out of her own unwillingness to make waves, and she and Celeste become friends. Quiver's sunny image is gradually shattered for Frannie, especially when she learns the horrible truth about the Teschler place, where Ku Klux Klan lynchings were once organized. The secret past of Quiver will shock most readers; the author's acknowledgments, of anonymous neighbors who found Klan ""rule books"" hidden in their attic, speak to the authenticity of this powerful story. Ages 10-up. (June)