Glory Be

Book Reviews

BCCB:
Scattergood, Augusta Glory Be. Scholastic, 2011 [208p]
ISBN 978-0-545-33180-7 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 4-7

Set in Hanging Moss, Mississippi, in 1964, Scattergood’s debut novel tells the story of eleven-year-old Glory Hemphill, whose summer is about to change in ways she never could have predicted. It starts with rumors that the community pool will be closing, closely followed by the arrival of a Yankee girl named Laura Lampert, followed immediately by the discovery that Glory’s fourteen-year-old sister Jesslyn has been secretly dating Robbie, the new boy in town. Much of the novel focuses on Glory’s growing understanding of the injustices of segregation, injustices that she, a white Southerner, didn’t see at the start of the novel but that, by the latter part of the story, have her writing a letter to the editor of the local paper blasting the city council members behind the racism-based closing of the pool. Glory shifts problematically between complete ignorance of current events and her profound observations about the occurrences happening in her own town, between blissful unawareness and precocious understanding. Scattergood is more successful at creating a believable setting that’s chock full of characters who, though occasionally caricatured, add to the sense of place and time. Glory’s narration is fresh, and her high-spirited take on the implications of the events going on around her makes for light reading, given the somewhat heavy overtones of the topic. Fans of gregarious, opinionated historical girls will be particularly drawn to Glory’s perspective, or you could pair this with Curtis’ The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 (BCCB 1/96) to contrast two very different kids very memorable summers during the civil rights era. A note about the book’s historical origins is included.  HM

Booklist:
Glory Be.
Scattergood, Augusta (author).
Jan. 2012. 208p. Scholastic, hardcover, $16.99 (9780545331807). Grades 3-6. REVIEW.  First published December 15, 2011 (Booklist).

Each year, Gloriana Hemphill celebrates her Fourth of July birthday at the community pool. But the summer before her twelfth birthday, in 1964, Hanging Moss, Mississippi, is in turmoil, and that turmoil reaches right into Glory’s life. Yankee “freedom people” have infiltrated the town, rousing rabble and insisting the white-only pool be desegregated. The town council, in response, has closed the pool “for repairs,” indefinitely. And so Glory’s summer, once a promise of happy tradition, is now fraught with unwanted change. First-time novelist Scattergood has a deft hand with characterization, fully realizing the supporting players, from Frankie, Glory’s best friend and son of the bigoted town council chief, to Jesslyn, her teenaged older sister, to Laura, a girl visiting from Ohio while her mother sets up a free clinic. In Glory herself, tilting on the threshold of adolescence, Scattergood paints a balanced portrait of childlike self-interest and awakening integrity. This moving, intimate look at America’s struggle for civil rights, as seen through the narrow lens of one growing girl, will spark interesting discussion. — Thom Barthelmess

Horn Book Guide:
Scattergood, Augusta Glory Be
   202 pp. Scholastic 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-33180-7
(3) 4-6 Glory doesn’t understand what’s happening in her Mississippi hometown during the “Freedom Summer” of 1964. Difficult and changing relationships with her sister Jesslyn and friend Frankie mirror the swirling upheaval. The hotly debated closing of the segregated community pool both serves as a snapshot of the tumultuous era and illustrates Glory’s realizations about the power of her own convictions.

Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine [or Guide, as applicable] by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com

School Library Journal:
SCATTERGOOD, Augusta. Glory Be. 202p. Scholastic. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-33180-7. LC number unavailable.

Gr 5-8–Spunky, engaging Gloriana Hemphill, 11, describes the “freedom summer” of 1964 in Hanging Moss, MS, where winds of social change are beginning to upset the status quo. In a series of eye-opening adventures, Glory learns that her sheltered life as a preacher’s kid has overshadowed her awareness of injustice and intolerance in her town. When the segregated community pool is closed indefinitely, her predictable world is upended. A new girl arrives from Ohio with her mother, a nurse who will be running a Freedom Clinic for poor black people. Big sister Jesslyn’s new boyfriend reveals that he was once jailed in North Carolina for sitting with a “colored friend” at a white lunch counter. Meanwhile, best friend Frankie spouts dislike of Yankees and Negroes but is clearly manipulated by a racist father and an abusive older brother. Although Glory’s ingenuous, impulsive behavior often gets her in trouble at home and in the community, she learns the importance of compassion, discretion, and self-awareness. A cast of supportive adults helps her mature: her patient, widowed father; her beloved African American housekeeper; and the open-minded local librarian. This coming-of-age story offers a fresh, youthful perspective on a pivotal civil rights period. Historical references to Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s visit, the influx of civil rights workers, and Elvis vs. The Beatles popularity are included. But the richness of this story lies in the Mississippi milieu, the feisty naïveté of the protagonist, and the unveiling of the complexities of human nature. Glory is an appealing, authentic character whose unflinching convictions, missteps, and reflections will captivate readers.–Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC

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