Sunday, December 18, 2005

Belle Teal, by Ann M. Martin

Belle Teal is growing up in the South in the late Fifties. Her grandmother is going senile and her mother is studying at secretarial school while trying to support them all, so there's really no one at home for Belle Teal to tell about the new colored boy at school or snooty new rich girl. As she confronts her classmate's blatant racism with the help of her friend and a sympathetic young teacher, Belle Teal does a lot of growing up.

Probably one of Martin's better novels, this one still has some rough spots, almost as if it was rushed and underedited. It is enjoyable enough as a read for middle readers, but gets a bit scrappy at parts. Like other novels about racism in the past, this novel seems suspciously like one of those books you get assigned to read, rather than choose to. Might make a good book report subject but for enjoyment I'd go for something more contemporary and relevant.

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