From the author of the Oprah's Book Club Selection An American Marriage, here is a beautifully evocative novel that proves why Tayari Jones is "one of the most important voices of her generation" (Essence).
It was the end of summer, a summer during the two-year nightmare in which Atlanta's African-American children were vanishing and twenty-nine would be found murdered by 1982. Here fifth-grade classmates Tasha Baxter, Rodney Green, and Octavia Harrison will discover back-to-school means facing everyday challenges in a new world of safety lessons, terrified parents, and constant fear.
The moving story of their struggle to grow up-and survive- shimmers with the piercing, ineffable quality of childhood, as it captures all the hurts and little wins, the all-too-sudden changes, and the merciless, outside forces that can sweep the young into adulthood and forever shape their lives.
PRAISE FOR TAYARI JONES
"Tayari Jones is blessed with vision to see through to the surprising and devastating truths at the heart of ordinary lives, strength to wrest those truths free, and a gift of language to lay it all out, compelling and clear." -- Michael Chabon
"Tayari Jones has emerged as one of the most important voices of her generation." -- Essence
"One of America's finest writers." -- Nylon.com
"Tayari Jones is a wonderful storyteller." -- Ploughsharesspan
Based on the Atlanta child murders of 1979 1980, this wrenching debut novel is told from the perspective of three Atlanta fifth-graders living in the midst of the crisis. Tasha is a sweet, conflicted middle-class girl navigating the harsh social waters of her school. Rodney, "the weirdest boy in class," is an unpopular kid who feels both pushed and ignored by his perfectionist parents. Octavia is a whip-smart, confident social outcast who carefully notes that she lives "across the street" from the projects. Jones, who was a child herself in Atlanta in the late '70s and early '80s, weaves her tale with consummate ease, shifting from third to second to first person as she switches narrators. The details of the children's everyday life playground fights, school cafeteria breakfasts, candy store visits are convincingly presented and provide an emotional context for the murders. When classmates begin disappearing, we know that they, along with their peers, are not one-dimensional innocents. One night when Octavia sneaks a late-night look at the local news, she sees a now-missing classmate flash on the screen. "In the picture he looked like a regular boy from our class. He was by himself so you couldn't tell that he was shorter than most of them and just nicer and smarter than all of them put together. Kodak commercials say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but the one they showed of Rodney ain't worth more than three or four. Boy. Black. Dead." This strongly grounded tale hums with the rhythms of schoolyard life and proves Jones to be a powerful storyteller.
Seeing the world through the eyes of a child
Amazing book. The author brilliantly tells the story of horrible real life events through the eyes of children. It’s an amazing story that contrasts what we always hear about the innocence of childhood with the brutal realities of the world. The author’s use of different narrative voices is seamless and really makes you feel like you know these children, which makes you feel for them even more. A must-read especially for anyone who works with children.
Novel that single handedly changed my life
Give this novel to young family members, change a life.