FLYING SOUTH by Laura Malone Elliott

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Most kids have a best friend their own age.  The cool kids–like Bridget–think you shouldn’t be friends with someone over 30 at all.  But even though Doc was a very old man, Alice still considered him her best friend.  And saying goodbye to him was one of the hardest things she ever did.  Alice tells the story of her friendship with Doc as it developed during the turbulent summer of 1968 when the nation faced war, racism, and assassinations, and Alice herself tried to connect with her distant mother who was slipping even further away from Alice as she contemplated remarriage.

Set in Charlottesville, Virginia, Flying South is an historical fiction novel for middle grade readers which pairs the tense race- and gender-relations of the 1960s with a girl’s attempts to navigate tense relationships in her own life.  The historical details are often awkwardly incorporated in this novel, and some of the characters are flat and stereotyped.  The feminist message in particular seemed forced.  Still, it is an interesting period of history to read about, and 5th-6th graders will probably relate to Alice’s awkward transitions from childhood to adolescent friendships.

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