cover image The Parker Inheritance

The Parker Inheritance

Varian Johnson. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-545-94617-9

After her parents divorce, 12-year-old Candice Miller begrudgingly moves with her mother from Atlanta to the small town of Lambert, S.C., for the summer. In the attic of Candice’s late grandmother’s house she finds a letter addressed to her grandmother, which promises treasure to the city if the letter’s puzzle can be solved. Candice then learns that her grandmother’s efforts to do so years earlier cost her both her reputation and her job as the first African-American city manager in Lambert. Candice digs into the mystery along with Brandon, an 11-year-old neighbor who is being bullied. The two bookworms have just a few months to find the fortune and repair Candice’s grandmother’s legacy, and they come to discover how racism has poisoned the town over the years. It’s a gripping mystery, and the plot shifts smoothly between Candice’s present-day story and flashback sections that reveal Lambert’s history of injustice. Johnson (To Catch a Cheat) addresses important issues gracefully, particularly having the freedom to live a life of one’s choosing and the long-lasting effects of discrimination. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Mar.)