Very Interesting story to the time period for Florida + much of the south.
From the Publisher
"Samuel Daniel Dare may only be in the fifth grade, but he has known more heartache than any boy should. Since the death of his mother, the Dare family has left their hollow in the Carolinas to seek their fortune in the endless orange groves of Florida." "But the local sheriff doesn't like the looks of the Dare children. In fact, Sheriff Kyle Deluth wants them banned from the all-white school - which can legally block any child who is more than one-eighth Negro. Never mind that the family is part Croatan Indian, not black. In these parts, K.A. Deluth's word is law." "Although, a court battle will ultimately determine the Dares' fate, the seething court of public opinion has already sentenced them to the status of outcasts. And a silent band of cowards clad in white sheets comes calling in the night." But among the sea of racists, an unlikely pair of supporters surface: Lila Hightower - the complicated prodigal daughter of the county's most powerful man - and Ruth Cooper Barrows, new-in-town editor of the local paper. Together, the two women forge a dangerous alliance to confront the good ol' boy network in a shattering, no-holds-barred fight. But it is an unexpected ally who will change the face of the town - and their lives - forever. And in the process, a powerful friendship will teach Daniel Dare something no schoolbook ever could.
From The Critics
A sleepy 1950s Florida town becomes a racial battleground in McCarthy's insightful, fervent second novel (after Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands). Recently widowed, Franklin Dare moves his family to Florida to start a new life in the lush citrus groves. But his young children catch the eye of a corrupt sheriff, K.A. DeLuth, who proclaims Daniel's hair too "kinked" and Rebecca's nose too wide and bans them from Lake Esther Elementary (according to Florida law, any child deemed one-eighth black or more cannot attend an all-white school). Only unimpeachable evidence that Franklin has no black blood-in fact, he is part Croatan Indian-will result in the children's readmittance. Employing the Dare affair in his re-election campaign, DeLuth stirs up local racists and Klan members. But two of the area's most prominent and spirited women-newspaper editor Ruth Cooper Barrows and Lila Hightower, the daughter of the county's deceased strongman, whom DeLuth once counted as an ally-crusade in defense of the children. While the sheriff wins re-election, he loses face when more townsfolk come forward to side with the Dares, who are prepared to take their fight to court. The Dares' legal triumph over a bumbling defense isn't quite the end, though, as DeLuth proves his insanity and a friend of Daniel's makes the ultimate sacrifice. The ending may present more questions than answers, but it doesn't take away from McCarthy's flawless dialogue, warm characters and compassionate wit, all of which service a moving story about the powers of love and justice. (Dec. 30) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In the early 1950s, local law in Florida could prohibit children who were demonstrably one-eighth African American or more from attending school-whether public or private-with "white" children. Rather than taking the effects of such segregationist policies as the theme here, McCarthy casts her net more widely: How are both individuals and the community affected when some are declared to be among the unprotected class in spite of identifying themselves as members of the majority power? Told from several viewpoints, the story of a fifth grader's expulsion-on the basis of his suspiciously nappy hair-develops into revelations about the secrets maintained by the community's leading family, the moral resources of the corrupt sheriff's wife, and the power and limitations of the free press. This is not a perfect literary work as it lacks the subtlety and grace of such novels as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and there are structural problems. However, the overarching strength of the tale is the realistic interplay of government policy and private lives, as well as the clash between perceived cultural truths and actual scientific facts. Most successful is McCarthy's realization of the consciousness-or lack thereof-of the era, making this story more suited to support of the social sciences curriculum than to language arts.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.