Summary: From the sad and shameful actual destruction of an island community in 1912, Schmidt weaves an evocative novel. When Turner Buckminster arrives in Phippsburg, ME, it takes him only a few hours to start hating his new home. Friendless and feeling the burden of being the new preacher's son, the 13-year-old is miserable until he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, the first African American he has ever met and a resident of Malaga Island, an impoverished community settled by freed or possibly escaped slaves.
Despite his father's and the town's stern disapproval, Turner spends time with Lizzie, learning the wonders of the Maine coast. For some minor infraction, Turner's father makes the boy visit elderly Mrs. Cobb, reading to her and playing the organ. Lizzie joins him, and this unlikely threesome takes comfort in the music. The racist town elders, trying to attract a lucrative tourist trade, decide to destroy the shacks on Malaga and to remove the community, including 60 graves in their cemetery.
Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME for School Library Journal.
My Review: I have to say, this is the perfect book to read alongside or right after A Northern Light. The main character is a kid you'd want to be friends with, and the story is strong enough to keep you going all the way through. Even though Turner and Lizzie are young (this is a middle grade book), and it's more of a "boy book", I fell into Turner's world easily. The climax and ending are the strongest I've seen from fiction in general--not just middle grade fic, either--in a long time. This is one I'm passing along to my mother-in-law, who teaches English, especially because I liked it more and more as the story progressed.
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