Friday, January 10, 2020

Guy Friday- Clean Getaway, Leaving Lymon

Stone, Nic. Clean Getaway
January 7th 2020 by Crown Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by

William (Scoob or Scoob-a-doob to his grandma) ran into some trouble at school, and his father decides to send him to spend his spring break with his grandmother so he can be supervised, since his mother took off when Scoob was a baby. G'ma, however, has plans of her own. She has sold her house and bought an RV, and takes off on an adventure with Scoob. He's a little concerned that after checking in a few times with his dad, G'ma turns off the phone, but doesn't think too much about it. G'ma wants to recreate a trip she took with Scoob'd grandfather in the 1960s. It was difficult then, since she is white and her husband was black, and traveling through the South required the Green Book so that black people knew places where they would not run into trouble. Scoob wishes he knew more about his own mother as well as his grandfather, and he enjoys spending time with G'ma, so he is up for the adventure. As it continues, however, he is concerned about not contacting his father, about G'ma's memory lapses, and about what really happened with his grandfather being sent to jail for grand larceny. Eventually, he can no longer control things, and his father comes to the rescue, and also sheds some insight to Scoob's past.
Strengths: I loved the road trip with the grandmother idea-- it's been down before (Cooney's Hit the Road, Acampora's How to Avoid Extinction), but is always a fun way to see a grandchild interact with a grandparent. The inclusion of Civil Rights history is fascinating, and the spot illustrations will make sure that readers pick this one up. Great cover, too.
Weaknesses: The issue with the grandparents wasn't resolved well. We learn some of the history, but not enough, and the ending was a bit deus ex machina. Don't want to spoil it, but it seemed incomplete.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and hope that a final version is a little different.

Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Leaving Lymon
Published January 7th 2020 by Holiday House
Public library copy

It's 1938 in Mississippi, and young Lymon lives with Grandpops and Ma because his father is in prison at Parchman Farms, and his mother has started a new life in Chicago after struggling with parenting at a very young age. Things are okay, and Lymon's favorite thing is playing music with his grandfather and his friends on Friday nights. In 1941, Lymon starts school, which has its ups and downs, and Grandpops' health starts to fail. After his death, Lymon's aunt Vera decides that Ma must move to Milwaukee to be near her and her family. His father gets out of prison, but has a nomadic lifestyle playing gigs, and always promises to be with Lymon but never makes it happen. There are good and bad things about it, and Lymon goes to school and makes some friends, although it is not the same as living in the South. When Ma's health fails and Vera's young family demands her attention, Lymon's mother comes in the middle of the night to take him to Chicago. There, he struggles with school and with dealing with his two step brothers and Robert, his mother's husband. Robert is abusive, and even smashes Lymon's grandfather's guitar. When Lymon finds out that Vera is sending money for his upkeep but Robert is taking it all, he steals the money and tries to get a bus ticket back to Milwaukee. His mother doesn't want him, so he eventually ends up back there after a stint in juvenile care, and his father finally steps up to take care of him.
Strengths: This short companion novel to Finding Langston gives another picture of the Great Migration. I very much appreciated that it gave the place and date at the beginning of the chapter instead of making readers hunt for those things! The difficulties of daily life for Blacks in the US during this time, both in the North and the South, are laid out, and an end note about Parchman Farms and the father's experience there is interesting. Lymon's stint in juvenile care for a minor offense was eye opening. The music connection will draw readers to this story, and it will also please readers who like problem novels that deal with abuse. (My students have very particular demands when it comes to sad books, and this fits right in!)
Weaknesses: I almost wish that this were a little longer, and that the end note information about the criminal "justice" system at the time were worked into the story.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and this will be popular during our Decades unit.

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