If you enjoyed either “The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963” or “Bud Not Buddy”, this book will grab you from beginning to end. Once again the author uses his home state of Michigan as the backdrop. The Malone family starts off living in Gary, Indiana – Father, Mother, 12-year-old Deza, and older brother Jimmie. At the beginning, Deza is a happy child with a best friend Clarice, a librarian that encourages her, and a teacher that she adores. She does not yet realize that financially, her family is hanging on by a thread.
But the country is in the midst of the Great Depression. First Father loses his job, then Mother. Deza’s father leaves for Flint, Michigan, where he hopes to find work. When he goes missing, the rest of the family heads for Michigan as well, determined to find him. The search is much harder than they anticipate; they experience hunger, homelessness, and the hobo life. But through it all, there is hope. Hope that they will someday find Father. Hope that there will be work for Mother. Hope that Deza will get a good education and continue to develop her brilliant mind. Hope that Jimmie will grow to a normal height. But above all, hope that the four of them will be together again as a family.
There were so many things about this book to love. I loved the way the author handled the subjects of poverty and prejudice against African Americans without turning it into an angry story about blacks versus whites. It was more about the Great Depression versus everyone. I loved Mr. and Mrs. Malone, who never allowed their children to feel like victims. They taught love for the family, the value of hard work, and the courage to keep going when the situation looked impossible. I loved Deza, with her passion for books and large words she found in the thesaurus. And I loved big brother Jimmie for his pursuit of work to support his family, despite the fact that he was not even an adult yet.
This is an outstanding book that can be read by anyone from age 10 to 110!