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THE FRED FIELD by Barbara Hood Burgess


by Barbara Hood Burgess

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-385-31070-6
Publisher: Delacorte

In an event-packed continuation of the saga of Oren Bell (1991) and his colorful inner-city Detroit family, the young African-American and his twin, Latonya, spend the summer after seventh grade fostering a ballpark (``Fred Field'') in memory of a gifted homeless friend who was murdered in the crack house that formerly occupied the site; discovering Fred's murderer and, by convincing him that Fred's ghost is haunting him, forcing him to confess; and organizing Mama's July 4 wedding—not to mention playing in a band and participating in an arts project. The exuberant productivity of these kids is almost a tall tale, but a joyously inspirational one: Latonya plans to be a doctor and manages the household with efficiency and panache while Mama goes to college and holds a job; little Brenda, though subject to depression, is creative and resilient; and, if Oren doesn't shine like his sisters, he's still thoughtful and reliable enough to make a perfect best man for his nice new dad. Burgess's witty narrative is a delight, with vivid, briskly developed scenes, a wealth of vibrant characters, and staccato dialogue that unobtrusively incorporates their firm grasp of what's feasible and what's right. Though upbeat, the story isn't simplistic; in the end, the city razes the Bell's beloved home and the ballfield, but at least the new housing to be built there will be named for Fred. Splendidly warmhearted and engrossing. (Fiction. 10-14)