In a small and apparently all-white town, Angelina and her friends face a sinister danger.
It’s a roasting hot summer in 1939, and Angelina is troubled by news of Hitler as newscasters wonder when America might become involved. It’s a time of fresh-squeezed lemonade, telephone switchboards, and church picnics. Twelve-year-old Angelina, her best friend, Geraldine, and the new preacher’s daughter, Reba Lu, hatch a plan to curry favor with God by making a list of sinners to befriend and save. The list includes some eccentric characters, including Miss Emma, who’s a bit “tetched,” rarely leaves her room, and wears a live snake around her neck. Also on the list is Jefferson Clement, who has just returned to town after a yearslong absence. Except for his wife and Angelina’s mother, most folks seem happy to see Clement and his red carnation boutonniere. One night, among other troubling events, someone tries to sneak into the girls’ backyard tent as they sleep. Angelina is nearly certain she knows who it is. The atmospheric story unfolds through Angelina’s increasingly discerning voice, which illuminates how intensely afraid the girls are to tell the adults. In lingering, evocative prose, this story is demonstratively reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, including a stifling courtroom inquiry of the town scapegoat and a girl’s loss of innocence. The afterword includes discussion suggestions.(Historical fiction. 10-14)