Ronald Kidd On Beale Street

ISBN 13: 9781416933878

On Beale Street

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ROCK AND ROLL IS ABOUT TO CHANGE JOHNNY ROSS' LIFE.

Living in Memphis in 1954, Johnny's world is completely segregated -- until he starts sneaking out to Beale Street at night. Beale Street, with its music clubs, is on the wrong side of the tracks, but it's the only place Johnny can hear the blues, which is all he cares about. It's also near Sun Records, where Johnny finds himself working for Sam Phillips -- and witnessing history in the making when an up-and-coming musician named Elvis records his first song. Nobody has heard anything like it.

All at once Johnny is pulled into a storm of controversy around this new kind of music, just as racial tensions are reaching a breaking point. What started out as a part-time job and a way to get behind the scenes of a record label is now spinning out of control. As songs like Elvis's start rising up the charts, Johnny sees the power music has to bring people together -- while secrets from the past threaten to tear his black-and-white life apart.

In this searing, cinematic novel, acclaimed writer Ronald Kidd tells a coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of race conflict and the birth of rock and roll.

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About the Author:

Ronald Kidd is the author of the highly acclaimed Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial, as well as On Beale Street. His novels of adventure, comedy, and mystery have received the Children's Choice Award, an Edgar Award nomination, and honors from the American Library Association, the Library of Congress, and the New York Public Library. He is a two-time O'Neill playwright who lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 8 Up—Memphis, TN, in the summer of 1954, is on the brink of the Civil Rights Movement and the rock-and-roll era. When Johnny Ross, a 15-year-old white boy steeped in the social conventions of a segregated society, discovers the blues and the music scene on Beale Street, "downtown for Negroes," he begins to question the racial boundaries that he has taken for granted all his life. His new friend, an aspiring young musician named Elvis Presley, moves with ease between the white world of his family and the black world of the music he loves. As Elvis makes one successful recording after another and gains a wildly enthusiastic following, Johnny enjoys being at the heart of the excitement while at the same time becoming aware of mysterious elements about his past. Why, for example, does African-American Will Turner, the longtime gardener, handyman, and chauffeur for his mother's employer, object to his son Lamont's developing a friendship with Johnny? Why does Johnny's mother warn him against spending time with Lamont? And who was Johnny's father, who disappeared before his son was born? This novel is a fascinating glimpse into the musical world of Beale Street, the society that was the segregated South, the origins of rock and roll, and one teen's quest for the truth about his father. Accurate historical details are skillfully woven into what becomes an absorbing search for personal identity.—Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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