by: Kathryn Erskine
Scholastic Press 2013
From the jacket flap:
Life will never be the same for Red Porter. He's a kid growing up around black car grease, white fence paint, and the backward attitudes of the folks who live in his hometown, Stony Gap, Virginia.
Red's daddy, his idol, has just died, leaving Red and Mama with some hard decisions and a whole lot of doubt. Should they sell the Porter family business -- a gas station, repair shop, and convenience store rolled into one, where the slogan -- "Porter's: We Fix it Right!" -- has been shouting the family's pride for as long as anyone can remember?
With Daddy gone, everything's different. Through his friendships with Thomas, Beau, Rosie, and Miss Georgia, Red starts to see there's a lot more than car motors and rusty fenders that need fixing in his world.
When Red discovers the injustices that have been happening in Stony Gap since before he was born, he's faced with unsettling questions about his family's legacy.
Why Kids Will Love It - Any middle grader who loves historical fiction will love this book. It goes into much detail and really makes the reader feel they are in the early 1970's, and girl or boy, it doesn't matter. The book is pretty fast paced and keeps the reader on their toes. Many characters seem a bit stereo-typical at first, but as their layers are revealed, they become more interesting and not always who they seem to be originally.
What I learned as a writer - The attention to detail. Erskine obviously spent a tremendous amount of time on research for this book, although after reading the back matter, she revealed that many of the characters are based on real life people and events, as well. Erskine also shows a delicacy to her writing when describing difficult, hard-to-read situations. It is tough to imagine that people in our history could act they way that they did, and I'm sure, very hard for many middle graders of today to understand. Erskine's writing helps tone down the emotion without taking anything away from it.
I hope you all have a great week! I will be busy reading, reading, reading! For other middle grade picks, see my favorite links to the right on my website.