Sunday, January 4, 2015

Up Next — MR. SAMUEL'S PENNY by Treva Hall Melvin

It’s 1972 and fourteen-year-old New Yorker Elizabeth Landers is sent to the sleepy town of Ahoskie, North Carolina to spend the summer with relatives. Her expectation of boredom is quickly dispelled when police sirens and flashing lights draw her to a horrible scene at the Danbury Bridge. Mr. Samuel, owner of Samuel’s Lumber Yard, has driven his car off the bridge and into the river, drowning himself and his daughter.

The medical examiner thinks it’s an accident, but the Sheriff finds fresh bullet holes on the bridge right where the skid marks are. Curiously, Mr. Samuel died clutching a unique 1909 wheat penny –a penny that is then stolen from the Sheriff’s office. Lizbeth witnesses Miss Violet’s grief upon learning that her husband and child are dead, and decides she will help by finding the penny.

Her search involves Lizbeth in the lives of many Ahoskie residents. Like the owner of the grocery store, mean old Mr. Jake, who –as all the kids in Ahoskie know –hates black folks. Plenty of pennies in his till. Then there is Ms. Melanie Neely, otherwise known as “Ms. McMeanie,” who thinks the lumber yard should belong to her. And Mr. Samuel’s handsome brother Ben, who struggles to keep the business afloat after his more clever brother’s death. Lizbeth searches through the collection plates at church and in the coin jars of crazy old Aunt Ode, a strange old woman missing one eye and most of her teeth, who keeps a flask in her apron pocket and a secret in her soul.

Review Time — JESUS JACKSON by James Ryan Daley

by Kaley Whittle

On the back cover of Jesus Jackson, a quote from School Library Journal describes the novel as “an engaging, suspenseful read that teens will not be able to put down.” I can personally attest to this fact. It took me a while to start reading James Ryan Daley’s first novel, not because I didn't want to, but because I was focused on passing geometry. When the day of our book club eventually rolled around, I had yet to even open the cover. I worked furiously through my classes, and by lunch I was finally free. I didn't eat that day; I devoured the book instead.