Synopses & Reviews
"There is nothing small about Childress's fine novel. It's big in all the ways that matter - big in daring, big in insight, and big-hearted. Really, really big-hearted." -New Orleans Times-Picayune
This exuberantly acclaimed novel by the author of the bestselling Crazy in Alabama tells an uproarious and moving story about family, best friends, first love, and surviving the scariest years of your life.
You need only one best friend, Daniel Musgrove figures, to make it through high school alive. After his family moves to Mississippi just before his junior year, Daniel finds fellow outsider Tim Cousins. The two become inseparable, sharing a fascination with ridicule, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, and Arnita Beecham, the most bewitching girl at Minor High. But soon things go terribly wrong. The friends commit a small crime that grows larger and larger, and threatens to engulf the whole town. Arnita, the first black prom queen in the history of the school, is injured and wakes up a different person. And Daniel, Tim, and their families are swept up in a shocking chain of events.
"Wise, riveting, hilarious, painful, gentle, and ferocious, One Mississippi is a wonderful read." -Anne Lamott
"A Tilt-a-Whirl that flings the reader from comedy to calamity. . . . Childress is a fabulist in the manner of John Irving." -Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"By turns rollicking and troubling, as provocative as it is droll, One Mississippi is about as easy to resist as a riptide. This critic's advice is to go with its powerful flow." -Raleigh News and Observer
"When his father is relocated from Indiana to Minor, Miss., in 1973, 16-year-old Daniel Musgrove finds himself a classic fish out of water. At Minor High, the Midwestern teenager finds a kindred spirit in wiseacre Tim Cousins, whose motto is 'Everything is funny all the time.' The two indulge their love of Sonny and Cher, get recruited by a local Baptist church to perform in an amateur musical called Christ! and endure the bullying of football star Red Martin. When, on prom night, the boys accidentally run over Arnita Beecham, a beautiful, popular black girl, the boys flee, letting Red take the fall. Arnita wakes from her coma believing she's white and promptly falls for Daniel which makes Tim extremely jealous and puts their coverup at risk. Childress's comic tone and well-written adolescent confusion make his late shift into darker territory jarring, and readers might not follow him all the way to his violent destination. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Childress eloquently addresses racism, tentative adolescent love, family dysfunction, and the occasional exploding house with plenty of wit and insight..." Booklist
"[A]bsorbing and offbeat....Serious issues of race, identity, and loyalty are raised, and tragic and violent events occur, but the author retains a surprisingly light touch in this highly engaging read. Recommended..." Library Journal
"Childress...creates a believably flawed hero in Daniel...but goes too far in the shocking final scenes....A coming-of-age tale whose shift in tone impairs its flow." Kirkus Reviews
"Tell the book club: An offbeat, Southern-fried coming-of-age tale." People Magazine
"[A] warm and wonderful ride." O: The Oprah Magazine
"[D]arkly entertaining..." Elle Magazine
"I revel in the narrative company of Mark Childress, and in One Mississippi, he's once again not just satisfied with being impish and hilarious after he gets you laughing at his 1970s high school hell, then cringing at how fantastically he turns racism on its head, he hits you over the head with a frying pan (and yes, this is a good thing)." Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil
"One Mississippi is a wonderful book, at once profound, touching, funny and full of surprises. I shall not again be able to consider the South, the seventies or American adolescence without thinking of Daniel Musgrove and Tim Cousins. One could hardly wish for more from a novel." Lynn Freed, author of The Curse of the Appropriate Man and House of Women
"Mark Childress is at the top of his form in One Mississippi, an astonishing novel about a young man in a Southern high school during its first days of integration. It is about the madness of families and segregation, what it means to be a teenager, and what it means to be a human. It is about the very great cost of freedom, truth, and friendship. Wise, riveting, hilarious, painful, gentle and ferocious, One Mississippi is a wonderful read, every bit as good as his earlier Crazy in Alabama, yet utterly its own masterful creation." Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
An uproariously funny and deeply moving novel about growing up in the South by the acclaimed author of Crazy in Alabama
When Daniel Musgrove's family moves to a small Mississippi town at the beginning of his junior year, he faces all the pain and thrills of adolescence, with extra helpings of hormones and humiliation. But then he meets Tim, a fellow outsider, and the two become fast friends. You only need one best friend, Daniel reasons, to make it through high school alive.
Together, they negotiate the triumphs and tribulations of junior year: going to the prom in sky blue tuxes it is 1973, after all playing in an original Baptist musical entitled "Christ!," and an unforgettable encounter with their secret heroes, Sonny and Cher.
But when the first-ever black prom queen of Minor High School is hit by a car and emerges from her coma believing she's white, Daniel and Tim find themselves caught up in a shocking chain of events that leads to a shattering climax. In the spirit of Richard Russo and Tom Perrotta, Mark Childress is one of our sharpest and most keen-eyed chroniclers of small-town life. One Mississippi is his most ambitious and accomplished novel yet.
About the Author
Mark Childress was born in Alabama. He is the author of five previous novels and three childrens books. He lives in New York City and Alabama.