cover image My Louisiana Sky

My Louisiana Sky

Kimberly Willis Holt. Henry Holt & Company, $17.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-5251-0

Making an unusually auspicious debut, Holt offers a unique coming-of-age tale. The year is 1957 and the place is Saitter, La., a small town where prejudices reach far beyond skin color. Twelve-year-old Tiger Parker, exceptionally bright and also good at baseball, is shunned by the girls in her class because her mother, Corrina, and her father, Lonnie, are ""different"" (""Folks around here call it retarded, but I like `slow' better""). Through Tiger's perceptive first-person narration, readers watch her grow painfully aware of her mother's limitations and become embarrassed by Corrina's childish behavior. She calms herself with the knowledge that her grandmother, who heads the household, has ""enough brains for all of us."" But Granny dies suddenly, and Tiger is left with an excruciating choice: Should she live with her sophisticated aunt in Baton Rouge, where she could find freedom but would break her parents' hearts, or should she forgo the opportunity and take on more responsibilities at home? While readers may not agree with Tiger's decision, they will admire her courage, loyalty and love for her parents. Holt conveys the innocence of Tiger's fun-loving mother and hardworking father without overdramatizing their intellectual deficiencies. The author presents and handles a sticky dilemma with remarkable grace. Ages 9-12. (May)