Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Hardcover, 9780374386610, 224pp.
Publication Date: December 23, 2008
Mississippi and integration in the 1960s
The year is 1964, and Alice Ann Moxley's FBI-agent father has been reassigned from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi, to protect black people who are registering to vote. Alice finds herself thrust into the midst of the racial turmoil that dominates current events, especially when a Negro girl named Valerie Taylor joins her sixth-grade class -- the first of two black students at her new school because of a mandatory integration law. When Alice finds it difficult to penetrate the clique of girls at school she calls the Cheerleaders (they call her Yankee Girl), she figures Valerie, being the other outsider, will be easier to make friends with. But Valerie isn't looking for friends. Rather, Valerie silently endures harassment from the Cheerleaders, much worse than what Alice is put through. Soon Alice realizes the only way to befriend the girls is to seem like a co-conspirator in their plans to make Valerie miserable. It takes a horrible tragedy for her to realize the complete ramifications of following the crowd instead of her heart.
An unflinching story about racism and culture clash in the 1960s.
"[An] impressive debut...Whether or not readers are familiar with civil rights, they are likely to find this novel memorable because it so strikingly identifies the bravery, cruelty, and vulnerability of characters their own age." -- Starred, Publishers Weekly
"The honesty of Alice's narrative moves this beyond docu-novel...The real tension is whether Alice can move from being bystander to standing up for what she believes. Rodman shows how hard it is." -- Booklist
"Rich in detail and lively writing. An important addition to the field." -- Kirkus Reviews"Written in clear language...the message is strong." -- VOYA
"Every once in a while, we read a book that changes the way we view the world and how we treat others. For some readers, Yankee Girl just might be that book." -- The Reading Teacher