Quaver crafts the characters with empathy and has an ear for the language and culture of an era rife with minstrelsy and more that’s definitely not filtered through contemporary sensibilities. The divisions of the American past become even more clear once a storm in eastern Arkansas separates the friends and washes Elly down a flooding river. She’s discovered near death by a Black family who nurses her back to health. Quaver depicts the tensions between the Black and white residents as palpable, edged with danger, especially after a boy pilfers Elly’s stash of cash and suddenly makes the small town very rich.
Meanwhile, Elly’s growing feelings for Buck, the Black teenager who rescued her, are touchingly developed, though neither can forget that interracial relations can be deadly. Quaver carefully blends nostalgia with clear-eyed realism, not shying away from the past’s darkness. The story, targeted to adults but with a YA feel, is still buoyant, alive with audacious,idiosyncratic characters who remain loyal in their friendship. Readers will enjoy the camaraderie, humor, and author’s era-appropriate illustrations.
Takeaway: A spirited teen's 1910s misadventures in love, danger, and ragtime.
Comparable Titles: Audrey Couloumbis’s Maude March Misadventures series, Joyana Peters’s The Girl in the Triangle.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A