Celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Shelia P. Moses’s National Book Award finalist and Coretta Scott King Honoree, The Legend of Buddy Bush, with this new edition of a classic novel that’s more relevant than ever.
The day Uncle Goodwin “Buddy” Bush came from Harlem all the way back home to Rehobeth Road in Rich Square, North Carolina, is the day Pattie Mae Sheals’s life changes forever.
Pattie Mae adores and admires Uncle Buddy—he’s tall and handsome and he doesn’t believe in the country stuff most people believe in, like ghosts and stepping off the sidewalk to let white folks pass. But when Buddy is arrested for a crime against a white woman that he didn’t commit, Pattie Mae and her family are suddenly set to journeying on the long, hard road that leads from loss and rage to forgiveness and pride.
With a plot that recalls To Kill a Mockingbird, Moses (So They Burned the Black Churches) blends the historical Buddy Bush, the stories about him that her grandmother told her plus her own imagination to paint a realistic picture of 1947 North Carolina. Narrator Pattie Mae Sheals, 12, lives with her extended family in what used to be a slave-owner's house and is now, ironically, called the slave house. It seems that most of her family does slave for the whites picking tobacco or cotton. Pattie Mae wishes she could go north to Harlem, where her older brother and sister live, and where her informally adopted uncle Buddy returned from five years earlier with a fancy Cadillac and an unwillingness to accommodate humiliations at the hands of white people. Taking Pattie Mae to the movies in town one night, Buddy fails to step aside for a white woman, who retaliates by accusing him of rape, charges that quickly land Buddy in jail and in imminent peril of a lynching. While Moses doesn't always secure the nuts and bolts of her storytelling (Just how has Buddy earned enough money to buy a Cadillac? Why has he traded his newfound way of living to resume residence in the slave house in the backward South?), she more than compensates by conveying the intimacy of Pattie Mae's large family. The author illuminates both the petty and grave injustices of their daily lives; she presents them in a way that allows the audience to react for themselves. Ages 12-up.