I’m trying to read more middle grade and young adult fiction. There are so many wonderful books and not enough time! I’ve just come across author Gary Schmidt, first reading Trouble, and now Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. I enjoyed both, but savored Lizzie Bright and understand how it won both a Newbery and a Printz Honor. It’s a beautiful book based on an historical event in Phippsburg, Maine.
At the turn of the 20th century, the town elders evict a community of former African American slaves from an island. The white community considers them a blight on the town and a deterrent to hoped-for tourism.
Turner Buckminster, the new minister’s son, is saddled with every rule you can think of and more. Harassed by his peers, he makes friends with Lizzie, granddaughter of the African American leader. Their friendship and Turner’s relationships with two old women sustain him while he fights for justice even when his reverend father is manipulated by the elders.
Through Turner’s voice, Schmidt sprinkles humor throughout a very serious story. Coastal Maine is so lovingly depicted that you can feel the damp fog and the sucking mud of the clam flats.
I can’t wait to read another Schmidt book. I’ll hear him speak at the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature in Westport, CT this weekend.