FRANCIE by Karen English


Age Range: 10 - 12
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In pre-Civil Rights rural Alabama, Francie goes to school and works, helping her mother as a maid for white families in town. Her father has gone to Chicago to find work and has promised to send for them, but he keeps postponing it. Meanwhile, Jesse, a boy whom she has tutored in school, is unjustly accused of attacking a white man, and Francie’s efforts to help him endanger her family and the other families around her. Francie’s life is portrayed as one of cruel poverty, and her patient, stalwart mother is devastated when the latest letter from her father disappoints them yet again. After the family’s long, agonizing wait, repeatedly emphasized, it’s quite a surprise—to readers, too—when her mother suddenly comes up with the money, not only to move the whole family to Chicago, but to buy them new clothes before they leave. This inexplicable ending mars an otherwise compelling story about the sheer exhaustion, fear, and frustration suffered by many poor African-Americans in the rural south. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1999
ISBN: 0-374-32456-5
Page count: 199pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1999