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2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

MG Road Trip Novel Warm, Entertaining, and Illuminating

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

William "Scoob" Lamar is on house arrest after an incident at school for which he was wrongfully blamed.  No one will listen to his side of the story, not even his father.  Feeling resentful, the 11-year-old is only too happy to go along when his 76-year-old grandmother decides to whisk him away on an impromptu road trip.  G'ma explains that they'll be retracing the route through the South that she and Scoob's grandfather took back in 1963.  As an interracial couple, they were rarely well received and had to travel using the Negro Travelers' Green Book to know which establishments would allow them entry.  Scoob can hardly believe such a guide was necessary, but as he—a bi-racial child who presents as Black—and his white grandmother travel through the South, he notices the odd, even threatening, looks they're getting from some people.  It seems to him that maybe things haven't changed much at all in the last 50+ years.

G'ma has always been a spitfire, but as they travel, Scoob starts to notice behavior that's strange even for her.  Is there a reason she's constantly ducking Dad's phone calls?  Is her spur-of-the-moment road trip really about teaching Scoob about the Civil Rights Movement and his own history?  Or is G'ma up to something a little more ... criminal?  

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone is a warm, enjoyable novel that asks readers to consider a serious question—how far has America really progressed when it comes to race relations?  Through the experiences of Scoob and G'ma, which mirror those of G'ma and G'pa in 1963, we can come to our own conclusions.  It's an unsettling but important question that all of us, regardless of ethnicity, would do well to ponder.  Despite its weighty subject matter, Clean Getaway is a funny book as well as a surprising one.  There's plenty of humor as well as mystery and adventure to keep it interesting and appealing.  Of course, it's got thoughtful, poignant moments as well, all of which combine to create an engrossing, moving read.  In addition to powerful lessons about racism, the book also teaches kids about the importance of knowing your own history and learning from grandparents while acknowledging the messiness of family life as well as the fact that there is always more to a person than what we think we know about them.  It's an illuminating book in many ways and one I very much enjoyed.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of When I Hit the Road by Nancy J. Cavanaugh)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for difficult subject matter (racism, parental abandonment, death, etc.) and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find 

3 comments:

  1. You had me at the words "road trip," but this does sound like a really good book. I grew up in the South and have lived here my whole life except for the years spent in Europe and Africa. I know this is anecdotal evidence, but from my own experience I sense and feel more distrust between the races - in both directions - during the last dozen years than before. Nothing overt, but more "separateness" than in previous years, and it makes me sad. We seem to have gone in the wrong direction. It is definitely not everywhere and not always, but there is enough of it to make it noticeable. I think a lot of it comes from fear generated by politicians who thrive on this kind of thing - in both directions.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nic Stone is so good and this one sounds like it is fun and well done.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hmmm, I just read Dear Martin and have Dear Justyce to read as well. I did not realize she also wrote an MG book dealing with race issues. Thanks for sharing this one Susan.

    ReplyDelete

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