SALTED LEMONS by Doris Buchanan Smith


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The strangeness of a new community and the particular peculiarities of the Southern (Atlanta) community Darby moves to are affectingly conveyed in this evocative story set during World War II. Darby, who comes from Washington, D.C., is immediately branded Yankee, ridiculed when she corrects some strange children's pronunciation of Colonial bread (she thinks it's colonel), then humiliated when they turn out to be right. Darby finds hostility and alienation everywhere: the little ""general"" of the neighborhood won't accept her into the group until, well along, she proves her bravery at a ""haunted"" bridge; and there are ups and downs with Fancy, the one friend she finally makes at school. She learns that the ""country"" kids don't mix with the ""city"" kids across the line, though both groups attend the same movie house and shop at the same corner store. Her new neighborhood friend Yoko, ""born right here in Georgia,"" is ostracized for being Japanese and finally, with her family, removed by the government; and the friendly corner grocer, from Germany, is called a spy. The more specifically Southern racial problem doesn't come up, but all the battle lines that are drawn heighten Darby's newcomer's insecurity. She frequently feels dumb for bungling procedures that seem obvious to the natives; she can't bring herself to call the teacher ""ma'am"" without a pause that aggravates the teacher; and for a while she too wonders about the grocer. Darby is at last accepted by the local children, but in the final episodes she befriends another ostracized newcomer, the girl who moves into Yoko's house--a ""holy roller"" whose prediction of the imminent end of the world fascinates Darby. Smith leaves you with a sense of how it was to be ten in the Forties, how it is to be ten and new in town, and how the pervasive in-group prejudices guide playground society.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Four Winds