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by Rose Brock

Schmidt, Gary. 2004. LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN 0618439293

After his father accepts a ministry position in the rural town of Phippsburg, Maine, and moves the family from suburban Boston, Turner Buckminster III is thrust into a world vastly different from what he has known. He learns that he just doesn't fit in here--even baseball is played differently, and his misery quickly becomes great. As Turner yearns to find his place, it is his budding friendship with Lizzie Bright Griffin, the granddaughter of an African American minister, which offers him salvation. When her home on Malaga Island is threatened by townspeople hoping to clear the land of the impoverished community so that it can be developed as tourist property, Turner struggles to right the many wrongs committed by the community leaders, including his father.

Schmidt sets this ambitious coming-of-age historical novel in Phippsburg, Maine, in 1911 and chooses as a backdrop a story which includes the tragic removal of the inhabitants of Malaga Island, most of which were the descendents of freed or runaway slaves who settled the island. This compelling and a rich tale offers unforgettable and unique characters which are multifaceted yet believable. Schmidt misses no details as he crafts all the players in this powerful story--even the quirky secondary characters are fully realized and embellish the already rich tale. Even the land functions as more than just the story's setting; through rich and vivid descriptions, its personification allows it become a major player in the work as well as being the catalyst of change for Turner as he discovers who he is and what he is willing to fight for. Universal themes such as justice and honor are treated with care, and it is in the author's skillful hands that they allow this poignant and tragic story to unfold seamlessly for the reader.


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