Saturday, December 29, 2012

Yankee Girl
by Mary Ann Rodman

Yankee Girl
Mary Ann Rodman
Grades 4 and up

Set in 1964, Alice’s world is about to be turned upside down. Her father works for the FBI and has been assigned to protect the Civil Rights workers and African Americans who are trying to register to vote in Jackson Mississippi. Moving from Chicago, life down in Mississippi is a lot different to say the least. Outright prejudice and hate against African Americans shows its face from not being able to try clothes on in a store to car bombings and other acts by the KKK. As Alice says, last year she read about the current events in the newspaper but now she is living the current events. Thinking Valerie Taylor, one of the handful of African American children in the entire Parnell Elementary School, would make a good friends since they are in similar situations, Alice learns quickly things are never as easy as they seem.

Similar in vain to A Friendship for Today, it shows even 10 years after the landmark decision of “Separate is not Equal” things were not quick to change, especially as far south as Mississippi. It’s interesting to see how each protagonist reacts given their experiences are very similar. In Friendship, Rosemary is a young African American forced to go to the previous all white school and is a minority. Alice’s story is from the Caucasian standpoint but is still very much in the minority of the way she thinks and acts towards African Americans. I enjoyed Yankee Girl though it does have some sad parts but that are very much true of American history. I have to admit it to took me several chapters to not flinch at the language but it is vital to the story for it to have an authentic feel.

One side note, this is marked as historical fiction even thought it is set 10 years later. The setting is integral to the story and the author intends it to be vital to answer Zena Sutherland’s question posed in the A Friendship for Today review.


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