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THE BAPTISM by Shelia P. Moses


by Shelia P. Moses

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 2007
ISBN: 1-4169-0671-1
Publisher: McElderry

This colloquial first-person novel is set in rural North Carolina in some unspecified time before the modern civil-rights era. In a vigorous, rambling voice, 12-year-old Leon, a mischievous, African-American boy, relates the dramatic events that take place the week before he and his more compliant twin brother are baptized. These vivid happenings include Leon’s separation from Luke during a tornado and the theft of his mother’s savings by his ne’er-do-well stepfather, Filthy Frank. Given the hefty length of some chapters, and stream-of-consciousness approach, the arrangement by the days of the week seems artificial. And the narrative is weighed down by a confusing explanation of characters and events from previous stories (the acclaimed books about Buddy Bush). Moses is forthright about the unsavory legacy of slavery: Leon’s wealthy white grandfather owned his black grandmother, and the white man who murdered Leon’s beloved father was never charged. This intimate portrait of family and community eventually hits its stride as Moses makes a distinctive contribution in her portrait of a southern black church from the inside out. Includes an enlightening author’s note and acknowledgements. (Fiction. 11-14)