A curse, the legacy of slavery, and a fight for justice collide in this fictionalized account of author Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood adventures, sequel to Simon’s Zora and Me, co-written with Victoria Bond (2010).
Twelve-year-old Zora Neale Hurston is as brave and adventurous as her best friend, Carrie Brown, is cautious. The year is 1903, and the girls live in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated all-black town in the U.S. Late one night, during an escapade, the girls discover their friend Mr. Polk injured outside his cabin. Mr. Polk is known to be mute, but to the girls’ surprise, he speaks—though not in English—to Old Lady Bronson, the town conjure woman, when she arrives to tend to his wounds. By night’s end, Zora has made a pact with the conjure woman, and she and Carrie find themselves embroiled in a half-century–old mystery involving an enslaved girl named Lucia. Through alternating chapters, narrated by Carrie in 1903 and Lucia in 1855, Lucia’s story and its connection to Zora and Carrie’s world come to light. Raw depictions of slavery and its aftermath provide important context as the Eatonville community’s resilience is tested in the face of injustice. The voices of Zora, Carrie, Lucia, and their families and friends make for powerful, unflinching storytelling, worthy to bear the name of a writer Alice Walker called a “genius” of African-American literature.
An extraordinary, richly imagined coming-of-age story about a young Zora Neale Hurston, the long, cruel reach of slavery, and the power of community. (biographical note, timeline) (Historical fiction. 10-14)