For Lamb

Holiday House. Jan. 2023. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823450152.
Gr 10 Up–In this sweeping tale of the Jim Crow South for a Black family, Cline-Ransome weaves the voices of the family and several outsiders toward a climactic end. Protagonist Lamb is a young Black girl living with her seamstress mother and older brother. And while Lamb’s dad has been absent much of her life, she discovers his proximity to them. In connecting with her dad, she also befriends a white girl, and both budding relationships position the family for trouble. Emotionally gutting, Cline-Ransome’s use of multiple points of view focuses the story on the deeper lives of each character. The characters are three dimensional, motivated by love, connection, fear, and ambition. The short chapters create a calm introspective pace as the story is introduced, which then turns into controlled chaos by the end and leaves readers breathless (and angry). The highly charged atmosphere that develops is similar to A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia and Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez both in the sweeping family tales and the connection to history. This book is a statement with its setting in Jackson, MS, in the 1930s, Lamb’s mother’s sexuality, Lamb and her brother’s advancement through education, and the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan on Black people. Unendingly powerful, the story and characters are unforgettable.
VERDICT Leave no doubt that this should be purchased for collections serving older teens. There will be much to discuss.

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