The summer of 1968 brings huge changes to the lives of a young white girl and an elderly black woman—and cements a beautiful friendship.
Having relocated from Columbus, Ohio, to Rainbow, Georgia, with her mom and deaf younger brother, Alice, almost 11, hopes against hope the move isn’t permanent and is determined not to feel at home or make friends. The white family’s arrived at Grandma’s because her increasing mental confusion has become worrisome. When Alice inadvertently overhears the “colored” next-door neighbor, Miss Millie, on the telephone party line, Mama orders Alice to apologize and offer help to the 92-year-old. Alice is tasked with walking Miss Millie’s nearly blind dog—who won’t budge unless accompanied by his owner. Thus old and young woman make daily treks. Over time, Alice learns painful truths about the tragic family losses Millie suffered because of racism and segregation—and is given treasured mementos from Millie’s past. For her part, Millie recognizes Alice’s aching sense of loss over her father’s abandonment of the family. Alice’s first-person narration sounds just right as she describes her relationships with family and townsfolk—and, especially, her eye-opening, heartwarming, and humorous encounters with the wonderful Miss Millie, who has come to cherish her young friend. The very poignant yet uplifting ending definitely merits a hanky, but readers will agree that walking with these excellently portrayed main characters was well worth the journey.
A memorable and lovely debut.(Historical fiction. 10-12)