The year was 1925, and a local teacher in Dayton, Tennessee was accused of teaching his students about evolution. At that time, most folks held to the belief that the world was created by God in six 24-hour days, and did not want their children to be taught evolution. It was also technically illegal in the state of Tennessee to teach evolution, so the teacher was charged with a crime, and a court date was set.
The town grew crowded with visitors wanting to see the trial in person, and to see what punishment the teacher would receive. The town turned into something resembling a circus, and was dubbed “Monkey Town”. The trial was the main event of the summer; nothing else mattered. Emotions ran high, and the “mob mentality” of some caused them to talk of hurting the teacher, and giving him what he deserved. Frances Robinson, the drug-store owner’s 16-year-old daughter, was more than a little infatuated with the teacher, and dreamed of marrying him some day. She also began to consider what she believed about the origin of the world.
The trial and the main people involved in the trial are real, although exact conversation and scenes around town were added to make it more story-like. The character of Frances is fictional, although she was based loosely on the recollections of an elderly woman who told the author what it was like to live in the town of Dayton while the trial was going on.
Frances is like everyone who reaches the age when they cross from childhood into adulthood. She is very loyal to her family and community, and wants to stand in unity with them. But she is also beginning to listen to opposing viewpoints, and has to form her own beliefs about the existence of God and the beginning of the world. She also has to decide whether it’s more important to agree with everyone around her, or think for herself. This book can be enjoyed by almost any age, from middle-school students to seniors.