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Between Us Baxters Hardcover – February 26, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: WestSide Books; 1st edition (February 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934813028
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934813027
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,486,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–9—In 1959, in Holcolm County, GA, there is a palpable tension. Times are slowly changing, causing resentment among some folks and optimism among others. The volatile mix sets the tone for this story of family, friendship, and racial discrimination. Jim Crow is the law of the South, separating the races, but it cannot dictate human emotions, creating the pivotal struggle of the novel. Twelve-year-old Polly Baxter, daughter of a poor white couple, and 14-year-old Timbre Ann, child of a black business owner, share the most improbable thing in this environment—a friendship. When suspicious fires, vandalism, and threats to successful black business owners cause fear and distrust among the townspeople, the strength of Polly and Timbre Ann's bond is tested. It is further jeopardized after a tragic incident threatens to separate them forever. The connection between the two girls and their families is beautifully described and believable, and the richness of the characters is apparent. The pacing of the story is deliberate and suspenseful with twists and turns that add to the bittersweet conclusion.—Margaret Auguste, Franklin Middle School, Somerset, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It’s the 1950s, and times are hard in 12-year-old Polly’s small southern town. Her white family is struggling to get by, especially after Daddy loses his job. Mama works as caregiver for the Judge’s ailing mother and gets a housekeeper job in the same home for her close friend, Henrietta (“Henri”), who is black. Polly’s best friend is Henri’s niece, Timbre Ann, but the girls have to keep their relationship secret as racial tension builds, black stores are torched, and even the sheriff condones the local violence. Is Polly’s dad part of the group that is setting fires? The cast is huge in this first novel; just about everyone in town plays a role, and it is hard to keep all their relationships straight. But Polly’s first-person narrative shows the heartbreaking family and friendship drama, making personal the ­n-word insults, the struggle and the fury of the poor whites, and the shocking persecution of blacks. The good guys are not idealized. Polly’s quarrels with Timbre Ann run deep, and healing the hurt takes more than just saying sorry. Grades 7-10. --Hazel Rochman

Customer Reviews

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A beautiful and dramatic debut from a fabulous new author.
LeighBrescia
Bethany Hegedus manages to keep us on the edges of those seats while still developing the characters beautifully.
Tracy W. Ryan
BETWEEN US BAXTERS is a work of extraordinary sensitivity.
A. Potter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Potter on April 16, 2009
BETWEEN US BAXTERS is a work of extraordinary sensitivity. The dynamics of small-town racism, family secrets, and most movingly, the bond between two girls whom no one wants to be friends are all portrayed with great honesty and attention to detail. A beautifully written and tensely plotted work -- readers will still be thinking about Polly, Timbre Ann, and the choices they face long after the last page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Lunievicz on June 10, 2011
Between Us Baxters, by Bethany Hegedus is a diamond waiting for readers to find. It is a tale of familial and cultural relationships brought to a breaking point in 1959 Georgia.

The settings are the white side of town and the Tracks, the black side of town. The conflict builds in intensity from the first page to the last. This is the kind of book that I couldn't wait to get on the subway to read (that's my longest stretch of reading time - as a straphanger) and actually stayed on the platform for when I got off at my work stop so that I could finish it.

The narrator, Polly is a like-able and struggling girl who as a protagonist was easy to root for and feel for. I especially liked that the mother and father were complex characters in their own right, neither one falling into stereotype, acting in surprising ways that became apparent as appropriate for them in hindsight. So many times the parents in YA fiction are simply cut and predictable but Ms. Hegedus has created wonderful characters that struggle in the gray area of right action, safe action, best action for yourself, and best action for people you love.

The feeling for the period of the book is perfectly evoked through dialog, simple details (black and white TV, three in the seat of a truck without seat belts), and Jim Crow Laws (who can sit in the back of the bus and who can sit in the front). A scene of Polly riding on a bus with her mother and having to watch a black woman with a crying baby leave the bus, knowing they'll have to walk the rest of the way because they don't have enough money to pay double fare, is heartbreaking. The issues of race and class are well delineated and provide the constraints from which all the players act out their dramas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kellye Crocker on September 9, 2010
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Boys and girls--of all races and backgrounds--would benefit from reading this powerful book set in the Jim Crow South. The novel deals with some difficult themes but in a sensitive and ultimately hopeful way. It is both broad and deep, and its characters, who would be so easy to stereotype, are finely crafted and as nuanced as real people. Like real girls, Polly and Timbre Ann (and their "salt and pepper" friendship) aren't perfect. But they learn from their mistakes and grow. This is an amazing literary debut, and I can't wait for the author's next novel, Truth with a Capital T, coming out next month!

Full disclosure: The author is a good friend, but as a journalist and former member of the National Book Critics Circle, I would never review a book favorably if I didn't really like it. YA books are my passion, and there are plenty of great ones to promote. This is one.
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Polly and Timbre Ann are defying the rules during the tense Civil Rights Era by being friends. Polly is white and Timbre Ann is black. The tension immediately escalates as black businesses are burned to the ground in Holcolm County, Georgia and I wondered how long their relationship could possibly survive. Polly and her mother are alike in who they choose as friends--good, decent people--however racism, dark secrets and fear run in the family. Polly is an impressive, gutsy girl who won my heart. I laughed, cried and ached for her as her world went up in smoke. Bethany Hegedus beautifully draws readers into the complicated lives of two intertwined families; all victims of senseless hate.
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By Beth Fehlbaum on April 24, 2010
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I ordered BETWEEN US BAXTERS after I noticed it was named an Outstanding Children's Book by Bank Street's Awards Committee. I had no idea about the powerhouse of a story I was reading when I opened the cover. Then, I couldn't put it down. Bethany Hegedus has created in BETWEEN US BAXTERS a world of real people that at once drew me in while at the same time saddened me, knowing that the town of Holcolm, Georgia was just like countless others during the Jim Crow Era. Sadly, the antiquated beliefs of the majority of whites in the story are still held by many today. I found myself praying that Polly's suspicions about her dad just couldn't be true, and rooting for there to be a happily-ever-after ending. I'll let you judge for yourself about that. In the meantime, I'm contacting my school's librarian (I am a teacher)and letting her know about the treasure of a story that is coming her way. BETWEEN US BAXTERS should be required reading for every student in America, especially in the South.

Courage in Patience: A Story of Hope for Those Who Have Endured Abuse
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By Tracy W. Ryan on October 27, 2009
This is an outstanding book. I hope schools will quickly add it to required reading lists for middle schoolers. It is a young adult novel but certainly should not be limited to this age group. I'm 37 and loved it. The characters are so real they completely tug at your emotions. The book follows 12 year old Polly as her world, including the segregated south around her, starts to change. Her mother is an outcast from her upper- crust family for taking up with the wrong man. Her outcast status enables her intense love and friendship to develop with a black woman, Henri. By extension, Henri's niece Timbre Ann and Polly grow to be close friends...as close as sisters. Their relationship is challenged as civil injustices begin to plague their communities. Polly is caught in the middle on many levels, the most upsetting is her discovery that her own father may be involved in racist vandalism.

The book's last 100 pages are full of edge of your chair suspense. Bethany Hegedus manages to keep us on the edges of those seats while still developing the characters beautifully. Bethany is a gifted writer and I hope we see more of this character Polly in future books....or just more of Bethany Hegedus period!
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