cover image For Lamb

For Lamb

Lesa Cline-Ransome. Holiday House, $18.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-82345-0152

The friendship between two teens, one Black and one white, sets off a series of tragic events in this potent, 1930s Mississippi–set novel by Cline-Ransome (Being Clem), told via multiple narrators. When Lamb Clark, described as “quiet as a lamb,” befriends Marny, the daughter of her small town’s optometrist, she’s privately excited for the distraction from her family’s personal drama and the opportunity to forge connection amid the racism she experiences daily. Her older brother, Simeon, who’s earned a full-ride scholarship to a college up north, is eager to escape their town and is constantly at odds with their seamstress mother, Marion, who’s struggling to hide her romantic relationship with her best friend, Myrtle. As Lamb’s friendship with Marny unfolds, the protagonist must decide what she wants outside of her family’s expectations and navigate the dangers of befriending a white girl in the Jim Crow South. The perspectives of the siblings’ absent father and their charming uncle, Chime, feature throughout, providing myriad looks into their experiences with racism, and at how their personal histories reverberate into Lamb’s present. In lyrical prose that displays adroit attention to historical detail, Cline-Ransome empathetically renders a perpetually optimistic protagonist whose hopeful outlook lends heartbreaking resonance to the narrative’s dark themes. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Jan.)