Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary D. Schmidt

I picked up this book before I knew that it was based on actual events.  I’m really glad for that, because I like to think of this book as a good story first and foremost, rather than a true story.  This one is about Turner Buckminster, a preacher’s son, and how he adapts to being the new kid in town in a very small Maine community.

It actually took me a few chapters before I realized that the book was set in the 1800s, and I guess that’s because I felt like I could identify with Turner.  We’ve all been the new guy at some point, and it’s easy to feel empathy for someone who’s picked on and left out.  Eventually, Turner makes friends with one particular little girl in town, whose name is Lizzie Bright.

Here’s where the problem lies:  Lizzie is black, and at this point in history, blacks are still treated like second-class citizens.  By befriending Lizzie, Turner quickly becomes an outcast himself.  During the course of the book, Turner gets caught up in the middle of the town’s plan to relocate the black families out of the area for a real estate development project.

I won’t spoil the ending here, but this one is definitely worth reading.  I like these “Man vs. Society” types of conflict, where it seems like the entire world is against one person.  Is there any way at all for the lone person to win this type of conflict?  How do you think that you would you behave if you found yourself in a situation where it seemed like everyone was against you?

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