Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the 2011 John Steptoe New Talent (Author) Award!
Racial duplicity threatens an idyllic African American community in the turn-of-the-century South in a dazzling debut inspired by the early life of Zora Neale Hurston.
Whether she’s telling the truth or stretching it, Zora Neale Hurston is a riveting storyteller. Her latest creation is a shape-shifting gator man who lurks in the marshes, waiting to steal human souls. But when boastful Sonny Wrapped loses a wrestling match with an elusive alligator named Ghost — and a man is found murdered by the railroad tracks soon after — young Zora’s tales of a mythical evil creature take on an ominous and far more complicated complexion, jeopardizing the peace and security of an entire town and forcing three children to come to terms with the dual-edged power of pretending. Zora’s best friend, Carrie, narrates this coming-of-age story set in the Eden-like town of Eatonville, Florida, where justice isn’t merely an exercise in retribution, but a testimony to the power of community, love, and pride. A fictionalization of the early years of a literary giant, this astonishing novel is the first project ever to be endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust that was not authored by Hurston herself.
"Debut authors Bond and Simon do their subject proud, spinning a tale about the childhood of writer Zora Neale Hurston, who 'didn't have any trouble telling a fib or stretching a story for fun.' So says her friend Carrie Brown, who narrates this novel as an adult looking back on a tumultuous and momentous autumn. Set at the beginning of the 20th century in Hurston's childhood home of Eatonville, Fla., one of the nation's first all-black towns, the story follows Carrie and Zora as events--including the gruesome deaths of two men--fuel Zora's imagination and love of storytelling; the truth behind one of the deaths proves more difficult for Carrie to accept than Zora's frightening yet mesmerizing stories of the supernatural man-gator she claims is responsible. The maturity, wisdom, and admiration in Carrie's narration may distance some readers from her as a 10-year-old ('The bad things that happen to you in life don't define misery--what you do with them does'). Nevertheless, the authors adeptly evoke a racially fraught era and formative events--whether they're true or true enough--in Hurston's youth. Ages 10 up. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"This accessible biography introduces Zora Neale Hurston's remarkable life and work to a new generation of readers."and#8212;Booklist
"Fradin continues his tradition of writing superbly researched biographies."and#8212;VOYA, 4Q 3P M J
"Zora Neale Hurston and her times come alive in this introduction for young readers."and#8212;Kirkus
"Zora's creative, hopeful, and complicated personality shines through this compelling profile."and#8212;Publishers Weekly
"The writing is straightforward and engaging, and the numerous archival photographs and reproductions add interest and clarification."and#8212;School Library Journal
"[An] engaging account of Hurston's life . . . this well-documented biography is pleasurable reading as well as informative."and#8212;Horn Book
"[Zora!] features the humor and heartache of the life of a brilliant but largely underappreciated writer who only became really well known after her death."and#8212;Bulletin
The life and times of African American writer Zora Neale Hurston, a larger-than-life personality, controversial advocate of equal rights, and brilliant author of Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Zora Neale Hurston was confident, charismatic, and determined to be extraordinary.
As a young woman, Hurston lived and wrote alongside such prominent authors as
Langston Hughes and Alain Locke during the Harlem Renaissance. But unfortunately,
despite writing the luminary work Their Eyes Were Watching God, she was always short
of money. Though she took odd jobs as a housemaid and as the personal assistant to
an actress, Zora often found herself in abject poverty. Through it all, Zora kept writing.
And though none of her books sold more than a thousand copies while she was alive,
she was rediscovered a decade later by a new generation of readers, who knew they
had found an important voice of American Literature.
About the Author
Dennis Brindell Fradin is the author of many books for young readers, including the well-received SAMUEL ADAMS: THE FATHER OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE and, with coauthor and wife Judith Bloom Fradin, IDA B. WELLS: MOTHER OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.Judith Bloom Fradin has collaborated with Dennis Brindell Fradin on several award-winning books for young readers, includinng Fight On! Mary Church Terrell's Battle for Integration, selected as one of 2004's Best Books for Young Adults among other honors. The Fradins live in Evanston, Illinois