Yankee Girl

by Mary Ann Rodman

As a child, author Mary Ann Rodman moved from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi. Her... read more

As a child, author Mary Ann Rodman moved from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi. Her father was an FBI agent. The year was 1964. Rodman’s own experiences form the basis of this novel about an 11-year-old white northern girl thrust into the heart of southern unrest when her family moves to Mississippi just as school integration becomes a reality. Alice Ann Moxley is still trying to adjust to the southern culture, climate, and accents when Valerie Taylor becomes the first Black child to attend Alice Ann’s new school. Although Alice Ann would like to be friends with Valerie, she’s under intense social pressure not to be. At the same time, Valerie doesn’t seem very interested in getting to know Alice Ann. Finally the two girls do make a few small strides toward friendship, but when Alice Ann sees a chance to be accepted by the most popular girls in her class, she finds it harder and harder to do what she knows is the right thing. When the popular girls begin to target Valerie with hateful tricks and cruel shunning, Alice silently goes along. Rodman’s honest narrative places the very human Alice in the midst of a struggle that will resonate for any child who has ever condoned injustice with silence. Many details firmly grounded Rodman’s story in the mid–1960s, from the Beatle-crazy girls to the increasingly insidious nature of the violence that permeates the thinking and actions of some of the people Alice Ann meets. While some of the secondary characters are not as well developed as others, this is a thoughtful look at difficult times times. The story that is never too heavy, or heavy-handed, despite the challenging issues it explores. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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