Thursday, July 15, 2010

Devil on My Heels

Joyce McDonald
(2004)
262 pages
Young Adult

     I have a blogging friend who has read so many, many books that when we go to the library she is really good about going down the stacks and pulling out random books (books you might not otherwise take one look at) and asking (telling) you to read them.  I generally listen until my stack gets too high and she is always right.  The last time we were at the library she told me I just had to read McDonald's Devil on My Heels and I loved it!!

Fifteen-year-old Dove narrates this historical fiction/coming-of-age tale and her story begins like this:

Lately I have taken to reading poems to dead boys in the Benevolence Baptist Cemetary.  They don't walk away before I have finished the first sentence, like most of the live boys I know.  When I read to them, their eyes don't wander to something, or someone, more interesting.  I can pretend these boys are listening.  I can pretend they hear me. (1)
Dove is studying poetry with her English teacher, Ms. Delpheena Poyer and she continues:

On Friday afternoons like this one, right after seventh period.  I head straight for the cemetary.  I like to sit beneath the Austrian pines in the cool shade, reading lines from Tennyson or Wordsworth, listening to the trees making up their own poems.  Soft words in the language of wind and pine needles.   (1) 
     See that's all on just page one...Dove is a great character, innocent to the ways of the world but savvy enough to know that "live boys" don't appreciate great poetry.  Her mother passed when she was a four-year-old and she lives with her father on an orange grove in Benevolence, Florida.  Her days are spent hanging out with her friends, going to school and trying to feel older than she is.  It hasn't been that many years past that she was tearing around the orange grove with Gator, a young African-American grove worker and Chase Tully, a grove owner's son.   Things are beginning to change for Dove...
    Both Gator and Chase are still important to her and are critical in helping Dove see how the groves provide a working environment one rocky step up from slavery.   It's a slow realization that things are not as easy going as her life has been in the past as she gets used to the idea that the local KKK group is rearing it's ugly head again as the workers are blamed for random fires started in several groves.  Delia Washburn, Dove's housekeeper since the death of her mother, also provides answers to old mysteries involving her dead husband. Inbetween trying to figure out the meaning of all the local fires, Dove tries to put out the fire burning inside her every time Chase looks as her now.  Yep, things have really changed for Dove!   McDonald provides several great twists as Gator, Chase and Dove avoid the KKK and run from those they love in order to save their friendship!  I recommend this book for middle and young adult as well as all adults interested in great writing.  5/5 stars

Other reviews here:

Read this
Maxson Middle School
Joyce McDonald's website

***counts for 2010 Support Your Library Reading Challenge***

Tomorrow I'll try to answer all burning questions about my acupuncture appointment!!

    

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