Review: Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

glory be

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

In Hanging Moss, Mississippi, summer is filled with swimming at the pool, visits to the library, and just trying to stay cool.  But for Glory, the summer of 1964 when she turned 12, was a very different summer.  Now her older sister Jesslyn, doesn’t want anything to do with her.  She is interested in boys more than in playing games with Glory.  Her best friend Frankie has always been easy to get along with, but now things are strained.  Glory does have a new friend, a girl from the north whose mother is helping set up a clinic where everyone is welcome.  Desegregation has come to Hanging Moss, and the pool is closed rather than stop being segregated, tempers are high, and neighbors and families are torn.  In this setting, it is Glory who shines, growing into a young woman with passion and a voice to match.

Scattergood’s debut novel is a gem of a novel.  She manages to write with a distinct point out view without negating the fears of the time but still firmly standing against any racism.  It’s a difficult thing to do, but because she manages it, the book is much stronger.  While the book is about civil rights, it also explores the complicated relationship of sisters, who are by turns drawn together and then pushed away.  The book is intelligent, explores the complexity of the day fully, and remains very human.

Glory is a great heroine, one who is confused at times about what is happening around her, but also one who sees when a stand must be taken.  Her growing confidence along with the support of her father and sister, create a compelling story of a young woman finding her voice.  The growth of Glory throughout the book is clear and natural.

This is a book that could be shared in the classroom, but I think it would read best on a blazing hot day near a swimming pool to remind everyone of what human rights are.  This is one strong, dazzling debut.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

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