professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Han Nolan strikes again

Han Nolan is, IMHO, one of those often overlooked authors. I know that I do not always remember to include her when someone asks me to recommend books and yet every one of her titles resonates for me and has been recognized by reviewers much more competent than I am. DANCING ON THE EDGE, BORN BLUE, SEND ME DOWN A MIRACLE, A FACE IN EVERY WINDOW--what a corpus already with a National Book Award and another NBA finalist. Now comes A SUMMER OF KINGS. There are two men named King that are having an effect on Esther in this summer of 1963. Esther is the oldest child in her family and often feels as if she is not as important as her younger sibs who are cute and talented. She is shunted off to the side, fetching road kill with her Aunt Pie (Pie cares for injured wildlife) or running with her neighbor Pip. Suddenly, this summer everyone seems to be growing apart from her, even her own family. Enter King Roy Johnson, the son of her mother's childhood friend. King Roy has been sent to live with Esther's family for his own safety: he is suspected of murdering a fireman who turned a hose on him and his younger brother and sister during a protest march in Alabama. King Roy is wary of Esther and her family. He has been told by some that white people are evil and not to be trusted. However, as the summer passes, King Roy and Esther come to a shaky but life-changing friendship. The other king to enter Esther's life is Martin Luther King, and she is determined to be a part of the march on Washington. Esther's summer is one where she comes to understand more of what she is to be and become. Not everything is settled for her, but there is hope for Esther after this summer of kings. Nolan has crafted an incredible novel that examines the complex issues of relationships, race relations and family relations and friend relations. Kids who are not normally drawn to historical fiction might just find themselves caught up in Esther's story and her summer.

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