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Zora and Me by Victoria Bond

Zora and Me

by Victoria Bond

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Yet another Young Adult book dealing with a powerful subject. This is a fictionalized story based on the real life author Zora Neale Hurston, and her friend Carrie. Told from the perspective of Carrie, we see two highly intelligent girls trying to make sense of a murder. As they put the pieces together of the tragic killing of a black man who was beheaded by the railroad tracts, they learn that life is not as idyllic as they perceived.

Carrie loves Zora, and also notes that her friend loves to tell stories, and embellishment is simply part of her make up. In real life, Zora is the author of the book Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Living in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated all-black township in the United States, sets the tone of a community where everyone knows one another.

Thus, when a stranger appears, Zora and Carrie are very fascinated with him. Soon thereafter, he is found dead by the railroad tracks.

The young girls all-too soon learn that race relations, particularly in the south, are fraught with spoken, and nebulous rules wherein there is a very high price to pay if a black man breaks social norms when mingling with a white woman.

I very much liked the way in which the author slowly built to the conclusion and, through excellent writing, told the dramatic ending in a way in which the reader was not bombarded, but rather came to learn the ugly workings of racism.

Highly recommended.
  Whisper1 | Feb 10, 2016 |
RGG: Channels the style and tone of Zora Neale Hurston herself, but makes for a very difficult middle-grade read. Reading Interest: 12
  rgruberexcel | Nov 18, 2015 |
Another audio-read courtesy of World Book Night and audiobooks.com. My only familiarity with Zora Neale Hurston prior to this was via Their Eyes Were Watching God. However, I am a lover of Southern literature, Southern writers, tall tales, and the art of story telling. This book was a wonderful interlude on a recent car journey, which brought the town of Eatonville, Florida, and the inhabitants there, clearly alive in my mind. ( )
  bookczuk | Jun 1, 2014 |
Warning to parents of preteens: The book's ending does get into some of the issues around race, segregation and the taboo against Black men talking to White women. After reading it, my 10-year-old daughter asked if I had read it and said that there were some parts that made no sense to her. I finally picked it up and read it last night and now understand why the denouement would be confusing to most 21st century tweens. ( )
  VikkiLaw | Apr 4, 2013 |
Zora Neale Hurston grew up in Eatonville, FL, "the first incorporated all-black township in the United States." In this fictional account of an incident in her childhood, Eatonville at first seems to be idyllic. Sure, the residents aren't very well off, but they're safe and free to be whoever they'd like. After a headless corpse is found by the railroad tracks, Zora and her friend Carrie's perspectives are changed forever.

This was a very fast read. Zora herself is a delight. She reminds me a bit of Anne Shirley in that she names everything around her and has her own mythology to explain the world. She's the leader of this little group of friends and she keeps friends Carrie and Teddy on their toes.

Zora and Carrie get a little too caught up in the events surrounding the murder at the train tracks. They've been on the edges of a lot of the events leading up to the event and curious Zora is trying her best to put all the pieces together. Seeing the world through their innocence, and seeing them just starting to lose that innocence, feels very real. They don't have the experience to really understand what they're seeing at first, but they gain that experience the hard way.

The novel becomes a good introduction to race relations in the US. I can't imagine that it would be an easy read for youngsters, but these kinds of books never are. Nevertheless, it is important that we know our history. The authors don't shy away from alluding to lynchings (note that I did write "alluding to"--nothing is spelled out) or using "the N word," so if your child isn't ready for that, it might be best to save this book for later.

All of that makes the book sound very heavy and depressing. It's mostly not. Zora and Carrie have to deal with some grown-up issues, but they also have fun playing and getting licorice and just being children.

This is a very well-done book that I enjoyed. I recommend it for anyone, but it would be an especially good conversation-starter for parents with children old enough to handle the subject. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
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It’s funny how you can be in a story but not realize until the end that you were in one.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763643009, Hardcover)

Winner of the 2011 John Steptoe New Talent (Author) Award!

Racial duplicity threatens an idyllic African American community in the turn-of-the-century South in a dazzling debut inspired by the early life of Zora Neale Hurston.

Whether she’s telling the truth or stretching it, Zora Neale Hurston is a riveting storyteller. Her latest creation is a shape-shifting gator man who lurks in the marshes, waiting to steal human souls. But when boastful Sonny Wrapped loses a wrestling match with an elusive alligator named Ghost — and a man is found murdered by the railroad tracks soon after — young Zora’s tales of a mythical evil creature take on an ominous and far more complicated complexion, jeopardizing the peace and security of an entire town and forcing three children to come to terms with the dual-edged power of pretending. Zora’s best friend, Carrie, narrates this coming-of-age story set in the Eden-like town of Eatonville, Florida, where justice isn’t merely an exercise in retribution, but a testimony to the power of community, love, and pride. A fictionalization of the early years of a literary giant, this astonishing novel is the first project ever to be endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust that was not authored by Hurston herself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:59 -0400)

A fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston's childhood with her best friend Carrie, in Eatonville, Florida, as they learn about life, death, and the differences between truth, lies, and pretending. Includes an annotated bibliography of the works of Zora Neale Hurston, a short biography of the author, and information about Eatonville, Florida.… (more)

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Candlewick Press

An edition of this book was published by Candlewick Press.

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