Tyre, Lisa Lewis. Last in a Long Line of Rebels
September 29th 2015 by Nancy Paulsen Books
E ARC from Netgalley.com
When Lou Mayhew overhears that her family might lose their home, she is understandably upset, but since the house has been in her family since the Civil War, it's even worse than it could be. Her father runs a junk yard on the property, which is in the middle of town, and there are several people who would like to see the house gone. Lou knows she must do all she can to save it, and uncovers a mystery about some lost gold. Thinking that the money would help somehow, she and her friends start researching the story to find clues to where the gold might have been buried. Along the way, she also finds out upsetting information about her family during the Civil War, and racism persists in the school system when her father's assistant Isaac doesn't get a scholarship because of the coach. Lou's mother is also due to have a baby very soon, adding a level of urgency to her search. Lou wanted the summer to be interesting, but perhaps not as interesting as it is turning out to be!
Strengths: Lou is a well-meaning, hard working character who is facing difficulties in a constructive way. I would like to see more books like that. The house and town are well described, and the supporting characters have enough depth to make them interesting. Lou starts to go to church to fulfill a promise she has made, and I liked the fact that she went, got involved, and enjoyed going to church without anything preachy about religion. Even though I am not religious and wouldn't go to church now, I spent many, many hours involved in youth group activities, and that's not something that is addressed very often in middle grade literature.
Weaknesses: Somehow, I still wanted MORE descriptions of the house! Some of the mystery got a little convoluted at the end, but it still worked.
What I really think: The Gilbert Ford cover doesn't work for me, somehow, although I really like his Mr. Lemoncello's Library cover, and several others. For a book set in the South, I liked this much more than I expected to and will probably buy a copy. But that cover... I don't think students will pick it up. Maybe the orange and purple combo?