professornana (professornana) wrote,

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disturbing and important

The cover (image not available) for the ARC is white with plain black type with the title, GUARDIAN, and the author, Julius Lester. Due from HarperTeen in November 2008 is a spare novel that rips the gauze from some of the most horrific crimes committed in this country: lynchings. Ansel has grown up in Davis, a town named for its founding father. Members of the Davis family still live in the town and rule it with their bloated sense of self worth at the expense of anyone else who lives in town. This is especially true of the way in which the family treats people of color (warning: the "N" word is used liberally here). Ansel, the son of the local store owner, is friends with a young boy, little Willie. For this, he is subject to the loathing and cruel treatment of young Zeph Davis. Zeph is unchecked in his treatment of others as less than important. And when rage grips him, Zeph is likely to hurt whoever is in his way. He does just that one fateful afternoon. Ansel and his father witness the tail end of Zeph's crime but remain silent when Zeph himself points the finger of blame at Big Willie.

Told from the point of view of Ansel, this is a difficult and disturbing book to read. Lester has never been one to pull punches in his books (remember WHEN DAD KILLED MOM and DAY OF TEARS?). This book explores the seamy underside of life: what happens when just one person fails to recognize te rights of another? Intense and unrelenting, this slim novel is certain to be one that creates much discussion.
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