It is spring 1970 in Alabama, and in spite of the racial tensions that come along with integration and the upcoming race for governor, sixth-grader Lu Olivera can’t stop thinking about running—or more importantly, the discovery that she can run.
It’s hotter than Hades the day Lu first runs in preparation for Field Day. She flies “like the blue blazes” and barely squeaks past classmate Belinda at the finish line for the win. As they mill about catching their breath and each other’s eyes, Belinda gives a nod of respect. Lu nods back, but not without a bit of trepidation upon reminding herself that “around here, black and white kids don’t mix. No siree bob.” You see, being from Argentina, Lu is one of the “middle” kids in the class. White kids sit on one side of the room, black kids, including Belinda, on the other, and those that are left occupy no man’s land. Readers will follow Lu through the spring of her sixth-grade year as she discovers not just the extent of her running ability, but how much gumption one tiny immigrant girl can have. It’s not always easy standing up for what is right, but sometimes, you just can’t stay in the middle. While Red Grove, Alabama, is a fictional town, the story is inspired by the author’s very real experiences growing up in Alabama. Young readers will relate to Lu as she navigates friendships, first love, and politics, cheering her on to the finish line.
An important and relevant story that will make kids stop and take a look at the world around them. (Historical fiction. 9-13)