Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Forgotten Girl

Brown, India Hill. The Forgotten Girl
November 5th 2019 by Scholastic
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Iris and her best friend and neighbor, Daniel,  live in a North Carolina neighborhood that abuts a woods. One night, they sneak out to play in the snow, something that Daniel's grandmother, Suga, doesn't like. They make snow angels, and venture further into the woods where they find an abandoned grace for Avery Moore, who died back in the 1950s at about their age. Iris starts to have a creepy feeling that Avery is haunting her, and there are inklings that she has perhaps gotten to Iris's young sister, Vashti, as well. Daniel and Iris have a school project on local history, and start investigating abandoned graves in the area only to realize that at the time, cemeteries were segregated, and many of the African American ones were plowed over or abandoned. Daniel has an especial interest because his father has passed away, and Iris has had several instances in the past where the school "inadvertently" left her out of things because she is one of the few African Americans in the school. She's busy with step team, but throws herself into the investigation, even interviewing Suga and finding out some secrets about both her and Avery's past. Avery becomes increasingly insistent with her hauntings, and Iris soon realizes that she must help put her spirit to rest by assuring that she is not forgotten.
Strengths: You would think that most middle grade books would have well developed characters with have easily discernible plots that are fairly easy to understand and remember; you might be wrong. I've read a lot this summer (writing this review 8/14/19) that are so crammed with characters and cover so many subplots that even I get confused! Many of my students struggle with reading and prefer graphic novels, but maybe part of it is that middle grade books are trying to deliver too many political/social-emotional messages! The Forgotten Girl was sort of brilliant in that respect-- it was a solid ghost mystery that drew in local history and civil rights issues in an easy to understand, relatable way. I didn't feel bludgeoned when I finished it, and I enjoyed the friendship, the strong family ties, and the picture of integration in one town.
Weaknesses: This was a good, well constructed story; I just didn't find it very scary.
What I really think: I will purchase for the creepy, Mary Downing Hahn style cover and the discussion of segregation during the 1950s.

This reminded me of Tracy Barrett's Cold in Summer (2003) a bit, so I think I'll try to get that title checked out!
Ms. Yingling

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