Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

A male high school student asked me to buy several romance ebooks for the Kindle. He didn't want to be "seen" carrying print copies just like the character, Brandon Jones, who likes to read "girl" stories. This is just one of many different social issues addressed in this novel giving it depth. Topics cover racism, marginalization, choices, LGBTQ, divorce, bullying and more; however, is written for readers ages 8-12. At the heart of the story is a puzzle being solved by the protagonist, Candice Miller, and her new friend, Brandon. When 12-year-old Candice moves to Lambert, S.C., for the summer after her parent's divorce, she finds a letter that promises millions of dollars to the city if it can be solved. Candice's grandmother tried to solve it ten years earlier and it cost her job and reputation as the first African-American manager of the city.

The author does a terrific job shifting between complex themes bringing it together in a satisfying ending. The character arcs are distinct and the flashbacks reveal Lambert's history of injustice that are good for discussion. The puzzle is tied in with the book, The Westing Game, that the two characters love to read. As they problem solve they make connections with how the mystery was solved in that novel to solve their dilemma. It that made me want to go back and reread the book. The treasure hunt is fun and I particularly like how the author addresses the freedom people choose to live their lives and the consequences of those choices such as the grandmother and Candice's dad. A well-written book that can be as complex as the reader wants to make it.

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