The Parker Inheritance

by Varian Johnson

At her late grandmother’s house in Lambert, South Carolina, African American... read more

At her late grandmother’s house in Lambert, South Carolina, African American Candice discovers an old letter referencing a hidden treasure in town, one it turns out her grandmother tried to find years before to help the city. Instead, she lost her job. Candice, who loves puzzles, teams with neighbor Brandon, who has internet access and research skills , in hopes of finding it and redeeming her grandmother’s reputation. While details about their lives unfold—Candice’s parents are separated; Brandon is dealing with a bully and a disapproving grandfather—the clues they follow reveal Lambert’s mid-twentieth century history. Chapters set in the past follow middle-class Siobhan, the talented, forthright daughter of the tennis coach at the Black high school, who falls in love with poor Reggie, the best player on the team. But Siobhan’s father, a Black man who’s worked hard to get where he is, doesn’t approve. When a secret 1957 match between the white and Black boys’ tennis teams triggers a violent racist attack after the Black team wins, Siobhan’s family and Reggie must flee town for their own safety. The teens’ resulting separation is at the heart of the mystery in this entertaining homage to The Westing Game (favorite book of several characters) that deftly yet meaningfully incorporates social justice issues from the present (e.g., ongoing racism, homophobia) and the past. (Ages 8–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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