Marie is a black girl living in southeast Ohio in a type of town people don’t often talk about – one where the rich people (relatively speaking) are black and the poor people are white. A new white girl moves to town and Marie thinks she’ll be one of the many who show up at school for a while and then leave before getting to know anyone, but Lena is different. The two unlikely friends forge a bond that lasts as long as it can, until Lena’s secret drives them apart.
Woodson makes an interesting comparison between Lena, whose too-loving father drives her away, and Marie’s mother, who walked out on Marie and her father to get some “air.” These two characters affect Marie’s life in drastically different ways, but both make her appreciate what she has left.
This is a very short book, and the pacing of the story suffers for it – I felt like too many things happened too quickly and I had a hard time figuring out how much time had passed between scenes. There is also little in the way of plot, which may deter readers who like a more action-packed story. However, Woodson’s treatment of sexual abuse and parental neglect in general is very realistic and simple, which I appreciated.
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