Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Heartwarming Story from the South During the Civil Rights Era

After Ibby's father dies, her mother drops her off at her grandmother Fannie Bell's house. Clutching her father's urn, Ibby is afraid to go inside sure that her grandmother will be a monster. The truth turns out to be very different. Fannie is warmhearted and eccentric, but she provides a good home for Ibby helped by the Trout family.

Queenie Trout and her daughter Dollbaby have worked for Frannie for many years. They take it upon themselves to teach Ibby about the South, sometimes with amusing results.

An air of mystery hovers over Fannie's house. Almost all the doors on the second floor are locked. Fannie has episodes when she has to be hospitalized. One of Queenie's rules is that Ibby mustn't ask about the family. In the end, the secrets are revealed. It's a satisfying ending.

I loved the characters in this book. Queenie and Fannie are exceptional. Although mistress and servant, they have a symbiotic relationship. Dollbaby, Crow, and the other members of the Trout family are well drawn. However, I was a little disappointed in Ibby. She's the central character in the story, but she seems very remote and hard to know. Perhaps this is intentional. Teenagers are often this way.

New Orleans is the setting. While we don't see much of the city, the neighborhoods where the Trouts and the Bells live are accurate for the time and give a good picture of the South during the civil rights era.

I highly recommend this book. The characters are people you'd love to know,
and there is enough mystery to keep the story moving.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.