DEVIL ON MY HEELS by Joyce McDonald


Age Range: 14 & up
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The early-1960s setting of a racially divided Florida town has Dove Alderman, 15, morally caught between the Mexican-migrant and African-American orange pickers working her father’s grove and her fellow white citizens. Dove’s childhood play, amid the orange trees, fostered life-long relationships with Gator, an African-American child, and Chase Tully, son of the neighboring grove owner. Raised by African-American housekeeper Delia, Dove lives her life with a sense of justice and honor. Unable to accept the accident story behind the death of Delia’s husband, she struggles to have the secret truth revealed. Gus died in a purposeful hit-and-run episode, the responsibility of her father’s white crew boss. Normal adolescent interests in school politics and dating are entwined but skillfully overshadowed by the issues of racial prejudice, class status, frighteningly dangerous KKK behavior, organized migrant protesting, and choices Dove, Chase, and their respective fathers make. McDonald uses realistic dialogue for the time period, including the word “nigger,” to deftly portray her well-developed characters in scenes that are equally vivid and sometimes violently graphic. Gripping historical storytelling. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 11th, 2004
ISBN: 0-385-73107-8
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2004


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