Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Kristin Levine

I read this book last week and already can't remember the plot that well. I liked the book but obviously it was a forgettable. The story was entertaining if unbelievable. I think the author nails it better in "Lions of Little Rock," with a stronger emotional pull. Dit Sims lives in Alabama in 1917 with so many brothers and sisters, his dad forgets his name. When the new Post Master comes to town with his family, Dit becomes friends with their daughter, Emma. She's black and he's white. Problems ensue and thirteen-year-old Dit starts to like Emma as a best friend. When it takes a romantic turn things turn ugly with his friends.

As Dit becomes aware of other townspeople and their prejudice toward blacks he is still naive when it comes to the fact that people will kill over this issue. His youth makes him blurt out things and act in a way that threatens the black people in the community. When he challenges another black man to take a stand, he has no clue that he is asking him to risk his life. When he learns of some history regarding the white Sheriff and black barber, his interference has terrible consequences. The justice system did not favor blacks in the early 20th century and Dit's ignorance adds to the poignancy of his actions.

I didn't really buy the romantic part between Dit and Emma and the cock-a-mamy staged death was fun, but far-fetched. I do think Levine is quite good at creating characters and their internal struggles with friendships and life choices. The plot has plenty of action and tension but I would have liked a bit more history on why Emma was so educated for a black girl. I have read about the black middle class in the north and found the book, "Crow" by Barbara Wright, on the 1898 Wilmington race riots quite fascinating. I wanted more regarding Emma's background and her father's rise to becoming a Post Master. The author addresses it a little. I just wanted more.

3 Smileys

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