I really enjoyed Glory Be, a middle-grade novel by Augusta Scattergood, set in the summer of 1964 in Mississippi, amidst the growing civil rights conflicts. It’s kind of like The Help or Mudbound, only told from the innocent perspective of a twelve-year old girl.
Gloriana June Hemphill, aka Glory, has been looking forward to this summer when she finally turns twelve. She plans to have her birthday party at the community pool, like she does every year, and can’t wait for her southern town’s annual Fourth of July celebration. But everything seems different this year. Her 14-year old sister, Jesslyn, who used to be her close friend, is now ignoring her to hang out with her pep squad friends. Glory’s best friend, Frankie, is acting strangely and repeating things his brother and father say about the black residents of town that make Glory feel uncomfortable. And the whole town is in an uproar over the northerners staying in their town who are in favor of desegregation.
Glory doesn’t know much about civil rights, but she knows that she loves their colored housekeeper, Emma, like a second mother, and she likes her new friend, Laura, who is from Ohio and visiting with her mother, one of the “northern troublemakers” everyone is talking about. When her beloved pool closes for no good reason, Glory feels like the summer is ruined, and she can’t figure out why all the adults around her are so upset about the visitors.
I loved this novel. Glory is a likable main character, and her innocence and naiveté provide a different perspective to the civil rights movement, though the novel also deals with classic growing-up themes. This is Scattergood’s first novel, and I look forward to reading more from her.