The Red Rose Box

by Brenda Woods

Leah Hopper lives in Sulphur, Louisiana, a small town where everyone seems to know... read more

Leah Hopper lives in Sulphur, Louisiana, a small town where everyone seems to know everyone else's business, and a helping hand is always near. On her 10th birthday, in June, 1953, Leah and her family receive an invitation to spend the summer with her mother's sister, Olivia, in Los Angeles. She's dazzled by her aunt and uncle's fine home and lifestyle–nothing in her experience has prepared her for the world of a middle class, politically active, black urban family. And she's dismayed to discover a place where Jim Crow doesn't exist. In fact, it is in getting away from the south that Leah realizes how much her perception of the world has been defined by racial division, and even fear. "I started to think about the word freedom." Returning home to Sulphur, Leah can't stop talking about how wonderful Los Angeles is, much to the annoyance of her friends, and she dreams of going back to stay. Her dream comes true, but it is delivered with unbearable harshness when a tragedy orphans Leah and her sister. They return to Los Angeles, but for Leah everything has changed. Trying to adjust to Los Angeles as "home" only underscores everything she has lost, and coming to terms with that loss is too hard to imagine, despite the help of her aunt and uncle, and new neighbors and friends, including her first young love interest. Brenda Woods offers young readers a quiet yet emotionally charged story of love, grief, and new awakenings in her fine debut novel. (Ages 10-13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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