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Yankee Girl
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About the Author

Mary Ann Rodman was inspired to write Yankee Girl, her first novel, after leaving her job as a librarian and moving to Thailand. The experience of dealing with a completely different culture reminded her of her childhood years spent in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. Mary Ann moved to Mississippi during the height of the civil rights movement when her father, an FBI agent, was sent to work there. Mary Ann now lives in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Reviews

In this impressive debut novel set in 1964, Rodman infuses the familiar struggle of the new girl in town with immediacy, danger and historical relevance. Alice Ann Moxley, daughter of an FBI agent, moves from Chicago to Mississippi right before sixth grade begins and just as her new school receives its first "colored" students. As she takes in the local customs (seventh graders wear lipstick, the ladies all have maids because "nigras work for nothing"), Alice yearns to fit in with the popular and powerful cheerleading crowd, but they ignore her except to brand her Yankee Girl. She briefly and unsuccessfully attempts to befriend the lone black student, Valerie Jackson, who braves the initial crowds of jeering adults and seemingly ignores the cheerleaders' constant taunts and increasingly nasty pranks. The girl bullying theme may be universal, but what makes this novel stand out are the compelling threads in Alice's outsider's insights on the Southern milieu, her friendship with the boy next door, the institutionalized racism (a glamorous teacher disinfects her desk after Valerie touches it; a shop clerk won't allow a black customer to try on a dress), and Alice's fears as the KKK stakes out their house. Despite one or two unnecessarily neat plot twists, Rodman shows characters grappling with hard choices, sometimes courageously, sometimes willfully, sometimes inconsistently, but invariably believably. Whether or not readers are familiar with civil rights, they are likely to find this novel memorable because it so strikingly identifies the bravery, cruelty and vulnerability of characters their own age. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Gr 4-8-Alice Ann Moxley's father works for the FBI and has been transferred from Chicago to Jackson, MS, in 1964 to protect civil rights workers and individuals registering to vote. Taken aback by everything from Southern accents to the way black people are treated, Alice finds it very hard to adjust and nearly impossible to make friends. She's quickly branded "Yankee Girl," and the one friend she finds, the boy next door, abandons her when school starts-late this year, due to fear of integration. Alice's school is indeed being integrated, by two daughters of an important ally of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Valerie Taylor is in Alice's sixth-grade class, and although they are both outsiders, Alice is torn between trying to befriend her and trying to fit in with the popular girls. As the civil rights movement heats up, the Ku Klux Klan begins to focus on Alice's family. It takes until spring for her to sort out her inner conflicts, and by then tragedy has occurred and her reality has been shattered. Chapters begin with dated headlines that build a framework for the story. Some of the language is troubling, but it's also appropriate and adds to the increasing tension. Constant references to the Beatles embellish the '60s flavor, and the dialogue and narrative flow naturally. In an author's note, Rodman reveals that she lived this story 40 years ago, and readers who make it past the dull cover art will live it as well.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"In this impressive debut novel set in 1964, Rodman infuses the familiar struggle of the new girl in town with immediacy, danger and historical relevance. . . . Whether or not readers are familiar with civil rights, they are likely to find this novel memorable because it so strikingly identifies the bravery, cruelty and vulnerability of characters their own age."--"Publishers Weekly", Starred Review "Rich in detail and lively writing. An important addition to the field."--"Kirkus Reviews"" ""Every once in a while, we read a book that changes the way we view the world and how we treat others. For some readers, "Yankee Girl" just might be that book."--"The Reading Teacher"" ""Written in clear language . . . the message is strong."--"Voice of Youth Advocates"" ""The honesty of Alice's narrative moves this beyond docu-novel. . . . The real tension is whether Alice can move from being bystander to standing up for what she believes. Rodman shows how hard it is."--"Booklist"

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