by Katharine A. Russell
Read: March 18 – 22, 2011
Yearly Count: 14
First Line: I was a waitress for Christ.
Blurb: A young girl struggles to understand a tightening web of racial and generational tensions during the turbulent 1960s in the astonishing new novel, Deed So by Katharine Russell. All twelve-year-old Haddie Bashford wants is to leave the closed-minded world of Wicomico Corners behind, in the hopes that a brighter future awaits elsewhere. But when she witnesses the brutal killing of a black teen, Haddie finds her family embroiled in turmoil fraught with racial tensions. Tempers flare as the case goes to trial, but things are about to get even hotter when an arsonist suddenly begins to terrorize the town. Can Haddie help save her town, and herself?
From page 12:
Several ‘deed so’s could be heard bubbling from the congregation. One pew over, Miss Thelma sighed and shifted her fan to her other hand, causing a momentary disturbance in the airflow. Reverend Harrison smiled and nodded. “but remember, down here, when we say ‘deed so, what we mean is we recognize the truth.”
Review: I received this book to review for the Pump Up Your Book blog tour. I must start out by saying that just about any book that has the words “1960s” and “racial tensions” in its description is going to immediately attract me. I was a history major in college, and I had two favorite areas of study: the Civil War and the Civil Rights eras. So when this book was originally pitched to me, I snatched it up based on the description. I must state that while I enjoyed this book thoroughly, it was not at all what I was expecting. The storyline revolves around Haddie, a twelve-year-old girl who seems much wiser than her short 12 years. Haddie sees a lot of different things during the time in which this book is set: she witnesses her best friend (whom she secretly crushes on) go off to Vietnam a boy and come home a changed man, and she is very aware of what is going on around her as far as the racial tensions, especially when she is a witness to a murder and a subsequent murder trial witness. I only had one real problem with Haddie’s character: she was not entirely believable as a 12-year-old girl. Sure, he had the dreams and beliefs of a child, but she had the mind and thoughtfulness of a much older young woman. I had trouble believing that a 12-year-old girl could really see things the way she did. Most adults would not have caught on to some of the things Haddie did. I had a slight problem with that. Other than that, I felt the book was really well written. Although this was a 400+ page book, it was a quick and enjoyable read. I was slightly disappointed that there wasn’t more mention of outside issues that were going on in the 1960s, mainly because to really set the mood of the book in line with the turbulent decade, things needed to be more real. Sure, Wicomico Corners was in the North and it was a little more isolated, but I think that it could have been more believable if other issues had been addressed. At one point a field trip to Washington D.C. is taken and an incident happens with a black boy on the bus: things like that really happened. And there were descriptions of the demonstrators who showed up to protest the trial as well as a brief mention of a sit-in at a local restaurant. I felt as if the author had included a few more episodes like that sprinkled throughout the book then it would have better captured the mood of the decade, because while they were mentioned, they didn’t seem to be really addressed by the characters. They were mentioned and Haddie’s character and her two friends, Sarah Jane and Elise sometimes questioned the adults as to what was going on, but really there could have been more elaborating on those issues. Overall, I did enjoy this book. I just felt as if the blurb on the back of the book really overstated what the story was about.