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Gr 7 Up-This moving, effective novel is a sort of Roots for young adults. It chronicles the African American experience through the lives and times of one family, beginning in 1753 with the capture of Muhammed Bilal in Sierra Leone. He survives his journey to America on a slave ship to become the founder of a family, whose history The Glory Field is all about. Readers then meet one of his descendants, Lizzy, a young slave who works on a plantation in 1864 on Curry Island, South Carolina. From slavery, escape, and the Civil War, they follow the fortunes of the family to the year 1900. Then, teenaged Elijah migrates North. Chicago of the 1930s is described through the experiences of Luvenia, 16; Curry of 1964 is seen through the eyes of Tommy, also 16. The last part of the story is set in the present and focuses on Malcolm and Shep, teenaged cousins who have come to Curry from New York City for a family reunion. The decades pass swiftly and are connected by characters who appear in one segment of the saga and reappear later as survivors from the past or as memories. Each part of the story ends on a hopeful note, yet each is unfinished. Readers are left to wonder what happened to various people; sometimes an answer is provided, but more often not. The vast array of characters play out their lives challenged and beset by problems of racism, poverty, and identity. The anchors in their lives are family and their love for one another and their land. A beautifully written, powerful book.-Carol Jones Collins, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ
Spanning nearly 250 years of African American history, this emotionally charged saga of the Lewis family traces an ongoing battle for freedom and equality. Beginning with young Muhammad Bilal's journey from Africa in 1753 and ending with a 1990s family reunion set on the plantation where Muhammad was a slave, this series of resonant stories shows how each generation comes of age by taking a stand against oppression. All through the Civil War, Great Depression and civil rights movement, the family's strength and determination continue unabated. In his typically taut, economic prose, Myers (Somewhere in the Darkness) illuminates shadowy corners of history and reveals the high cost-and the excruciatingly slow process-of justice. The obstacles facing the Lewis family will be remembered as clearly as their triumphs, and readers will come away from this novel with both a broader perspective on social conflicts and a more profound understanding of the past. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)