The Liberation of Gabriel King
By K. L. Going
(G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9780399239915, 192pp.)
Publication Date: June 16, 2005
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Gabriel King is afraid of everything: spiders, the rope swing over the lake, andmost of all, going to fifth grade.
Frita Wilson, his best friend, decides Gabriel needs some liberating from his fears, so they make a list and plan to tackle each one. But one of the reasons Frita is so determined to help Gabe is that she needs his help too. Hollowell, Georgia in 1976 isn't exactly the most integrated place, and Frita's the only black student in school in a town with an active Ku Klux Klan.
K. L. Going lives with her family in the Hudson Valley area of New York State. Since graduating from college she has worked as an adult literacy tutor, a ticket agent for a major airline, a front desk clerk at a resort hotel, and an assistant in a Manhattan literary agency. She has lived in Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and New York. K.L. is the author of many books, including Fat Kid Rules The World, The Liberation of Gabriel King, and Dog in Charge. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World, was a YALSA Michael L. Printz honor book.
It’s the summer of 1976 in a small town in Georgia. Gabriel King has just finished fourth grade and is scared about fifth. In fact, he’s scared of many things: spiders, alligators, falling into the toilet, killer robots, corpses, swinging off the rope swing, his neighbor Mr. Evans and bullies at school. His best friend Frita is out of to liberate Gabriel from his fears. She has him make a list of them and work through them one at a time. However, Frita, who is African-American, has fears of her own and the story becomes a study of standing up to fears and bullies, from the school yard to the Klu Klux Klan. Strong voice, lively dialogue, humor and important themes make this a winner. Readers will enjoy following the sometimes-tempestuous friendship of Gabriel and Frita, and they’ll be completely absorbed in watching the friends and their community come together to stand up against the evil within.
-Kirkus Reviews, starred review