It's the summer of 1964 in Hanging Moss, Mississippi and things are a changin'.
Town Council Man, James Smith, is against desegregation. So, he shuts down the community pool “for repairs.”
Glory’s birthday is the Fourth of July and she’s always had her party at the community pool...until this year. She unknowingly enters the fray as she outspokenly denounces the decision to close the pool.
Laura Lampert’s a Yankee whose mother is starting a freedom clinic in Hanging Moss. Friends are few for a white girl who drinks from the “coloreds only” drinking fountain.
Frankie Smith is caught between his family’s hatred and his friends’ readiness for change. Bullied into doing what’s wrong separates Frankie from his friends all summer.
Miss Bloom, Hanging Moss Librarian, refuses to be bullied and invites the entire town, black and white, to a celebration at the library.
Emma is more than Glory’s family’s maid. She’s a “freedom fighter” who shelters activists at her home and bravely attends the library’s celebration as one of the few African Americans who do.
Glory Be has be likened to The Help and I think it’s a good analogy though the two are different in presentation. In The Help, readers see events through many characters’ eyes with each chapter presenting a different character’s point of view. In Glory Be it is Glory’s voice that is the strongest and the book is written from her point of view. The strength in Glory’s point of view is that readers get a distinct feel for what is was like for a white child to participate in the Civil Rights Movement in the South. The other characters are shown how a child would understand them. Adults’ actions are often confusing to Glory and in her innocence she attempts to set them straight. Slowly, Glory begins to understand the implications of what’s going on around her.
The story goes beyond the Civil Rights Movement and explores a young girl growing up. The relationship between Glory and her teenage sister, Jesslyn, is in flux and I enjoyed watching that relationship change. Their father is a reverend who is somewhat distant as he deals with professional duties. Emma is a stand-in mother to the girls but not there all day. Glory has learned to turn to her sister for support and friendship but now her sister is distancing herself from Glory, desiring more privacy and "grown-up" activities.
Change is hard -- even good change. Glory Be was an enjoyable story about friendship and family during the Civil Rights Movement. Though I wished Emma’s voice had been louder this is ultimately a story about a white child’s experience and perspective and one well worth reading. This book counts towards the POC Reading Challenge!
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2012 Pages: 202
Rating: 4 Stars Source: Free Uncorrected Proof (paperback)