Betsy Hearne Listening for Leroy

ISBN 13: 9780689822186

Listening for Leroy

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9780689822186: Listening for Leroy
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Having been home-schooled in 1950s rural Alabama, Alice is excited to make friends when her family moves to Tennessee, but it becomes harder than she expects because her parents believe in racial equality.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Hearne (Eliza's Dog) resurrects landscapes, characters and events from her childhood to create this gentle, reflective coming-of-age novel. Divided into two sections, the first part of the story takes place in Alabama from 1954 to 1955. Isolated in the country and home-schooled by her liberal parents (her father is a physician from India and her mother a "Yankee" concert harpist), Alice has no friends her own age. Her only companions outside her family are her cherished volume of fairy tales and Leroy, the black man employed by her family to help run the farm as well as her father's medical clinic. Through Alice's experiences with Leroy, readers view the struggles of a deeply divided South; Leroy's storytelling?which often underscores the lessons gleaned from his own fight for freedom?sticks with Alice long after a pivotal scene in which he is run out of town and her own family consequently moves to Tennessee. There (in the novel's second section, from 1955 to 1956), Alice must attend public school where she desperately wants to fit in with the other fifth graders, but she knows that she will always be different (when she sees everyone else dressed in identical shoes, she realizes "she could stay on this playground a thousand years and still look strange"). Her unconventional opinions (e.g., her opposition to segregation), which are scorned by her peers, shed light on her compassionate nature. A montage of impressions crystallizes the essence of each major character, and the author's fluid prose subtly conveys Alice's revelations about herself, her family and a prejudiced society. Ages 9-12.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 5-8-Ten-year-old Alice's father is both physically and morally fearless in the segregated South of the 1950s. Mistakenly believing his position as the rural area's only physician cloaks his family and friends in protection and special influence, he objects when his young, black employee Leroy, is beaten by bullies. When the community condones this mistreatment of the young man, Alice's father sells his Alabama property and resettles the family in Tennessee. Here there is a school that meets her parents' standards and for the first time Alice begins attending classes with other children. Being intellectually advanced and having neither stylish clothing nor a mother who joins the "right" organizations, her social fate is sealed when she says during a classroom discussion that she would be willing to attend school with blacks. Stressed also by her father's insistence that she conquer fear as he does by handling snakes, getting back on horses after being thrown off, and climbing perilous rock cliffs, Alice develops headaches. Through it all and her eventual coming to terms with her new life, the wise words and tales told by Leroy whisper in her mind's ear. Hearne's Eli's Ghost (McElderry, 1987) handles the somewhat similar themes of interracial friendship and rigid social structures in a much more lively and humorous way. Well described, but slowly developed like the way of life it evokes, this book is for patient readers looking for a serious story.
Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Hearne, Betsy
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