|Billy (1993) [Novel]|
by Albert French
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This stunning first novel seems to have sprung full-blown from the red dirt of the land it portrays, hot and dusty rural Mississippi circa 1937. It's a blazing summer Saturday, and the black folks in Banes are happy not to be laboring in the fields. Billy Lee Turner, 10 years old and as mysterious and independent as his beautifully golden and regal mother Cinder, convinces his friend Gumpy to cross the railroad bridge that separates the black neighborhood from the homes of the whites. The boys can't resist wading in the cool pond on the Pasko property and are terrified when Lori, 15, red-haired, mean, and powerful, and her friend Jenny sneak up on them and beat them up. Gumpy escapes, but Lori has hurt Billy badly. When she finally lets him go, he stabs her in the chest. Lori's death is like a match to kindling. The sheriff can barely contain the mob of whites intent on revenge. The frightened boys are tried as adults in a trial based not on justice, but on blatant racism. This is an American tragedy, stark and resonant, told in a voice as unwavering as the August sun and as timeless as sorrow.
Original title: Billy
Genre: Fiction→ Children & Young Adult→ Historical Fiction
Fiction→ Children & Young Adult→ Social Issues→ Race And Prejudice