Lymon, who has music in his bones, has too many strikes against him to make growing into young adulthood easy.
Readers met Lymon as an angry bully in Cline-Ransome’s Finding Langston (2018). At the outset of this companion, the African American boy lives in 1940s Mississippi with his loving, guitar-playing grandpops and ever disgruntled grandmother, called Ma. Lymon’s flighty teen mother, Daisy, abandoned him long ago when she moved to Chicago and started another family; Grady, Lymon’s father, is incarcerated at Parchman Farm. Like Langston’s, Lymon’s distinctive rural Southern voice narrates both painful and poignant moments in a matter-of-fact way that leaves readers wondering how he can bear so much without breaking. Though likable and worthy of compassion, Lymon seems to attract negativity. When Grandpops dies and Ma sickens from diabetes, the relatives can no longer afford Lymon’s upkeep. They send him to Chicago to live with Daisy, her two sons, and her husband, Robert, who beats Lymon regularly. When Lymon steals money from Robert, the police send him to a boys’ home—where, finally, he’s allowed to come into his own. Cline-Ransome’s masterful storytelling will keep readers enthralled while teaching them about historical racial biases in the penal system, the plight of children during the Great Migration, the discrimination faced by Northern blacks, and more.
A captivating novel about a boy whose story will leave readers wanting more. (Historical fiction. 8-12)