THE RED ROSE BOX by Brenda Woods

THE RED ROSE BOX

Age Range: 10 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

Leah Hopper lives in tiny Sulphur, Louisiana, at a time when Jim Crow laws reign supreme. But she dreams of becoming a teacher, and although she is nurtured by a tender, loving family, she knows that this dream might be unattainable if she remains in the South. She gets a first glimpse of the world beyond via a family visit to her well-to-do Aunt Olivia in glamorous Los Angeles, where her eyes are opened to the possibilities of freedom. While accompanying their aunt on a trip to New York, Leah and her younger sister Rose hear the terrible news that a deadly hurricane has struck Sulphur, killing both their parents, as well as many friends and neighbors. The sisters must begin new lives in California while dealing with their devastating loss. Woods allows Leah to tell her own story, using the language with which she is most comfortable. Her dialect and syntax change, and she carefully corrects herself as she gains more education and experience. She sees clearly and notices everything. She paints a picture of every character down to the exact skin shade and hairstyle. Her power of description is so strong that the reader feels the searing heat and poverty of rural Louisiana and her amazement at the startling richness and openness of California. She shares her grief and guilt over her belief that her parents’ death has allowed her to escape from poverty and racism. This is a work that beautifully and accurately evokes a particularly painful and hopeful time through an insider’s eyes, and yet it is also a timeless, universal tale of a young girl’s road to maturity. An impressive debut. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23702-X
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2002




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