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GUARDIAN by Julius Lester Kirkus Star


by Julius Lester

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-155890-0
Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

This slim yet essential new tale of the Jim Crow South unfolds primarily through the eyes of Ansel Anderson, only son of the storekeeper in the small town of Davis. Ansel is in love with Mary Susan, the reverend’s daughter. His mortal enemy is Zeph, the sadistic heir of the local planter. And someday, he will grow up and become the town storekeeper, even though his father frets about his close friendship with an African-American boy, Willie, who dreams of becoming a doctor. Everything changes one hot summer day when Ansel discovers the depths of Zeph’s depravity—and refuses to tell the truth about murder. As a result, an innocent man is lynched, and Ansel loses his best friend, his first love and his home. The language is stark, spare and well-chosen, appropriate for recounting one of the darkest chapters of American history, boiled down to the bare bones. Eminently moving and highly recommended, especially as an alternative to To Kill a Mockingbird for less able teen readers. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)