Thursday, July 22, 2010

"When I Crossed No-Bob", by Margaret McMullan

"When I Crossed No-Bob", by Margaret McMullan, is an extremely compelling read, direct and honest, historical and geographically significant. Set in Raleigh, Mississippi in 1875, it weaves together stories of many people: sympathetic white Anglos; proud Choctow Indians; poor, miscreant white folk involved in the KKK, colored folk finding their way post-emancipation. The protagonist is a poor, uneducated 12 year-old girl, Abby O'Donnell, abandoned by her parents after growing up in No-Bob, the woods adjacent to the township. She is a sensitive and bright child, wanting to do right by people, and as she falls into uncertain and even dangerous situations, she develops into a stronger person, highly resiliant and with a gentile noblility.

Some of my favorite passages from the book are as follows. "People. They are like lightning sometimes. Unexpected, beautiful, and scary - mostly you can't run away from either one." "Zula is right. Us Anglos are full up with too much noise and too many words. My ears ring with all the words. Children running around, screaming in the streets, women inside whispering whispering, and the men brawling in the Harrison Hotel, singing, shouting, and making more noise. They can't sit quiet. They can't sit still. When do they think? DO they think?" [Concerning Keats' "Ode to a Grecian Urn":] "Now I think I know what that John Keats fellow means about truth. Once the truth is all laid out in front of you and everybody else and the whole world to see, truth good and bad, it IS a sight to behold, and that sight might be where beauty lies sleeping."

"...No-Bob" is also a book about love - faithful and courageous - and about developing the courage to be true to yourself, while being able to see the value of the greater good in your actions. Highly recommended for ages 10-15 and for adults, too!

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