A talented storyteller, and a master at creating memorable characters, Jones transports readers to a deep South farm ruled by a fierce matriarch, a grandmother trying to keep the peace, and two young girls who want more than anything to wipe the sadness from Marcell’s eyes. As the summer passes, Gracie and Jane learn Marcell’s secret and hatch a plan to help her heal, in the process awakening Gracie to the realities of racism in the ‘50s. As she comes to recognize the casual contempt whites express for Blacks, and the barely veiled cruelty saturating “civilized” society, Gracie stumbles onto shocking family secrets that threaten to rip apart her relationships—and force a racial reckoning.
Jones crafts a skillful transformation for Gracie, who, in due time, must decide what family really means—and accept the consequences that come with that decision. Well-crafted prose captures the spirit of a segregated South (“every time I found out a secret, the world seemed meaner”), evoking the sometimes-painful transformations that accompany childhood. Ultimately, Gracie’s metamorphosis illustrates the distress (and the freedom) that comes with learning the truth—a subtle lesson that Jones delivers with grace.
Takeaway: A well-crafted coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of the segregated South.
Comparable Titles: Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A