Moving can be either a real pain or an adventure. When 11-year-old Alice moves with her mom and dad from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi, she thinks of it as an adventure.
They move a lot. After all, her dad is in the FBI and he’s got a new special assignment in Mississippi. All she usually has to do is ride her bike up and down the block and pick out a likely looking kid to be her new friend. But Jackson is different. Really different. Jackson is not like any other place they’ve ever lived.
It’s the summer of 1964 and school is about to start. Alice’s father was called to Jackson because the schools there are about to integrate and everyone—from her neighbors right up to the President in The White House–is expecting trouble. All Alice wants is to make some friends, be popular, have a good time at school and be a normal kid but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.
There’s trouble at home. Alice’s Dad is always at work and strangers are leaving unfriendly “messages” on their front lawn. There’s trouble in the neighborhood with a group of snooty girls who are not about to make friends with a meddling “Yankee Girl”. Then there’s the biggest trouble of all, at school. As much as she’d love to be popular, Alice also feels the need to help the other new girl in class, the only black student in her grade, settle in for a good year also. In 1964, in Jackson, it’s not possible to do both things and Alice is really torn, especially when her classmate, Valerie, the daughter of a prominent black minister and civil rights activist, starts making friendly overtures.
It turns out that “everyone” was right. There is trouble in Jackson, Mississippi, big trouble, the kind of trouble that makes people take sides, even Alice. Having made her choice, she finds herself in the middle of a world she never knew existed. Did she choose rightly? How do you go about making a real, true friend?
Despite what her classmates may think, “Yankee Girl”, Alice, knows that, North or South, true friendship is about what’s in your heart, not the color of your skin.
Posted by: Eileen