cover image Plain City

Plain City

Virginia Hamilton. Blue Sky Press (AZ), $13.95 (194pp) ISBN 978-0-590-47364-4

The revelation that her father is close to home and not ``missing in Nam'' hits Buhlaire-Marie Sims like a bomb. All at once, her life is turned upside down. The people she trusted--Mama, Aunt Digna and Uncle Sam--seem to be liars; meanwhile, Buhlaire's worst enemy, Grady Terrell, is starting to act friendly. For the first time ever, Buhlaire becomes self-conscious about her ``carrot-honey'' skin, her ``Rasta'' hair and her mother, the famous Bluezy Sims, singer and exotic dancer. With exceptional grace and honesty, Hamilton ( M. C. Higgins, the Great ; Many Thousand Gone ) sketches a vibrant portrait of a gifted 12-year-old of mixed race in search of her identity. Accented with rivertown dialect, the lyrical narrative will draw readers into the small community of Plain City, down to the bank of stilt houses where Buhlaire resides, to the dimly lit night club where she makes her singing debut, and all the way to the homeless shelter where bittersweet truths come to light. Richly textured with a cast of unforgettable characters, this extraordinary novel offers a rare glimpse of unconditional love, family loyalty and compassion. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)