From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-Alice Ann Moxley's father works for the FBI and has been transferred from Chicago to Jackson, MS, in 1964 to protect civil rights workers and individuals registering to vote. Taken aback by everything from Southern accents to the way black people are treated, Alice finds it very hard to adjust and nearly impossible to make friends. She's quickly branded "Yankee Girl," and the one friend she finds, the boy next door, abandons her when school starts-late this year, due to fear of integration. Alice's school is indeed being integrated, by two daughters of an important ally of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Valerie Taylor is in Alice's sixth-grade class, and although they are both outsiders, Alice is torn between trying to befriend her and trying to fit in with the popular girls. As the civil rights movement heats up, the Ku Klux Klan begins to focus on Alice's family. It takes until spring for her to sort out her inner conflicts, and by then tragedy has occurred and her reality has been shattered. Chapters begin with dated headlines that build a framework for the story. Some of the language is troubling, but it's also appropriate and adds to the increasing tension. Constant references to the Beatles embellish the '60s flavor, and the dialogue and narrative flow naturally. In an author's note, Rodman reveals that she lived this story 40 years ago, and readers who make it past the dull cover art will live it as well.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL
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Gr. 4-8. Based on the author's experience as a white child of an FBI agent who was sent to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1964 to support the fight for civil rights, this first novel brings the terrifying racism close-up: the name-calling (including the n
-word), the cruel segregation, the Klan violence. Alice ("Yankee Girl") Moxley, the new girl in school, is desperate to be accepted, but she knows how much worse it is for her classmate Valerie, the only black student. Introducing each chapter, newspaper headlines chart the political struggle, but the honesty of Alice's narrative moves this beyond docu-novel. She's much more concerned with the Beatles and clothes than with politics--but the racism is always there. She admires a classmate who challenges the in-crowd, but Alice is not a noble freedom fighter; she likes Valerie and talks to her, but only when no one else is around. The real tension is whether Alice can move from being bystander to standing up for what she believes. Rodman shows how hard it is. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved