First book of my summer? Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine.
LOVED it! Historical fiction is admittedly my first love of genres. So, I fell into this book easy. And, Virginia is my adopted home state. I simply love all stories, lore and bits of information about the place I now live. Seeing Red is set in rural Virginia, not too far from Washington DC.
This is how my favorite book source, Novelist an EBSCO database that my public library carries, describes Seeing Red: "When twelve-year-old Frederick "Red" Porter's father dies in 1972, his mother wants to sell their automobile repair shop and move her two sons back to Ohio, but Red is desperate to stop the sale even if it means unearthing some dark family secrets in a Virginia rife with racial tensions."
I listened to Seeing Red on audible, my new favorite way of taking in a book: (http://tinyurl.com/kfkugwd).
The narration was good...but it was the characters that hooked me right away. I just love Red Porter and the way he thinks about things with a curiosity that leads the story. And, he has a great, group fascinating group of friends: Miss Georgia is 93 years old, Rosie is 12, Beau is an adult with a huge heart of loyalty and possibly intellectual challenges and Thomas who is 14 but from a world that isn't Red's.
Early on in the story, Red finds himself in the kind of trouble that only happens to young people who think they are ready to make choices and decisions independently when they really aren't. Red finds out what my grandfather used to say about "bad guys" of any sort: "once you say yes.....you don't get to say no ever again." But, Red is from a good family with a recently deceased father known for always having done "the right thing". Red has to find his way between what's easy and what's right, what's wrong and what's right and what's popular and what's right all on his own when his friendship with Thomas becomes impossible. These opposing forces for such a young man are what make a novel set in 1972 very relevant to today's readers.....I hope especially the boys.
Some of the subjects listed by Novelist for this novel include: automobile repair shops, family, fathers, grief, prejudice, preteen boys, race relations, small town, the seventies.
I enjoyed this novel similarly to how I enjoyed Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. The stories are different in subject and setting. But, the character driven story that leads a young man to reflectively grow up has the same feel.
-Discussion Questions with CC links by Scholastic: http://tinyurl.com/o34m9c8