This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. The author writes with such a tranquil voice, even when discussing the difficult subject of racism and civil rights in the south in 1957.
Gabriella Winter, the daughter of a U.S. Marine general and a mentally ill and absent mother, is 12 years old in the summer of 1957. One day, she spies a young black man behind the river of her house. When he appears later in her house, she is shocked to learn that her father has hired him to be the steward of their household. Hawkins is his name and they become fast friends. Hawkins, in his gentle and respectful way, teaches Gabriella how to swim, how to be brave and eventually, how to love.
Written in the voice of a 12 year old southern girl, the words flow beautifully across the pages, painting a picture that feels hazy and soft and a bit sad. Thought Gabriella is a strong, sweet girl, it is easy to feel her confusion over racial tensions and her mother’s absence while she is trying to grow from a girl into a young woman.
This is a wonderful book for ages 9 and up and I would highly recommend it as a gentle way of teaching civil rights history from the viewpoint of a young girl.