Intellectually engaging yet strangely unmoving, this unusual story about a cut-off child seeking to reconnect and belong...

HUSH

After Toswiah’s father, a black policeman who loves and believes in the moral rightness of his profession, makes the excruciating decision to testify against two white cops who shot and killed an unarmed black boy, Toswiah and her family enter the witness-protection program.

Toswiah Green, now Evie Thomas, watches helplessly as her once rock-solid family falls apart. Her father, previously a strong, competent man, spends his days sitting silently by the window, lost in tortured thoughts and smelling like old laundry, “right there but slipping away.” Evie’s mother, currently cut off from her adored profession of teaching children, has turned to God, becoming another kind of witness, this time for Jehovah. To cope, 13-year-old Evie and her older sister Cameron, now Anna, try not to think about the present but instead move into “the far, far future,” a time when their lives will be settled and sane. Written as Toswiah/Evie’s diary in a fluid almost impressionist style that keeps the reader at a distance, Woodson paints a portrait of people who have made the agonizing journey from being somebody to nobody. She’s interested in exploring what makes the core “I am” of a person, who they are when everything—friends, community, profession, even their names—has been stripped from them.

Intellectually engaging yet strangely unmoving, this unusual story about a cut-off child seeking to reconnect and belong will give youngsters plenty to think about. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23114-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN

It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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BURIED ONIONS

Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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