Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood, revolves around a young girl just turning 12 years old, living in Hanging Moss, Mississippi. She comes smack up against the issue of segregation, and it rocks every part of her world.
Gloriana June Hemphill is turning twelve on July 4, 1964. Every summer before she has spent the summer swimming in the city pool, playing with her best friend Frankie Cletus Smith, and doing things with her family (Jesslyn, sister; Reverend Hemphill, father; and Emma, cook and confidant). Glory is anticipating her birthday complete with fireworks; however, events and relationships are different this summer. The beloved pool closes under false pretenses, Jesslyn ignores her, a new girl from up North comes to town, Frankie reacts to this new friend by implicating her in a crime, and new people arrive in town who call themselves Freedom Workers.
This novel goes directly to the issues it is addressing. By chapter two you know that segregation and equality are going to be the central issues, but seeing it through Gloriana’s eyes gives the reader a new insight. Gloriana has never really thought about separate swimming pools for blacks and whites until hers is closed. She has never really thought about a separate drinking fountain for blacks and whites until Laura, the girl from the North, uses the white fountain to give a little colored girl a drink. To Laura, both fountains worked, so what was the difference; to Glory, it shocked her because separate fountains had always been the rule and now Laura has broken the rule. Glory never really thought about the “why” of those rules. Not only does she think about the rules; she takes action to change them.
Ms. Scattergood has created a novel that feels Southern– with heat, doodlebugs, and long afternoons–which certainly reflects the author’s background. She was born in Mississippi, and as a girl she experienced conflicts over civil rights firsthand. She understands children, probably because she was a camp counselor, and a lifeguard and a school librarian. Not surprisingly, there is a memorable character in Glory Be who just happens to be a librarian.
This is a good historical novel for exploring civil rights, friendship, and sibling relationships through the experiences of a child. It especially speaks to girls. You can see how the race issue affects people and their motives. There are tense moments, but always at the center is how Glory changes during that memorable summer.
Violence/Gore: A character is beaten by a gang of individuals; one character is confronted by another angry character but no physical contact.
Mature Subject Matter:
Social Conflicts: race, civil rights.
Alcohol / Drug Use: