Zora and Me

By Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

From Goodreads:

When a young man’s body is found by the railroad tracks, the murder and its mysterious circumstances threaten the peace and security of a small Florida town. Zora believes she knows who killed Ivory, and she isn’t afraid to tell anyone who’ll listen.

Whether Zora is telling the truth or stretching it, she’s a riveting storyteller. Her latest tale is especially mesmerizing because it is so chillingly believable: a murderous shape-shifting gator-man — half man, half gator — prowls the marshes nearby, aching to satisfy his hunger for souls and beautiful voices. And Ivory’s voice? When Ivory sang, his voice was as warm as honey and twice as sweet.

Zora enlists her best friends, Carrie and Teddy, to help prove her theory. In their search for the truth, they stumble unwittingly into an ugly web of envy and lies, deceit and betrayal. Just as unexpectedly, the three friends become the key that unlocks the mystery and the unlikely saviors of Eatonville itself.

Why it’s my type: “Everyone was eager for a story, and we all knew that nobody could tell a story better than Zora.” I loved Their Eyes Were Watching God, and this felt very familiar that way. Similar rhythm, southern beat and lovely language.

The language is my favorite. It’s like a note perfectly played or sung, a chocolate cake, just moist and rich enough, or a swooping, bold group of letters, precisely, beautifully drawn. All appreciated but unexpected at the moment of arrival.

That was a terribly botched attempt at doing justice to both Hurston and Bond and Simon’s work. 🙂

Memorable bit(s): Here are a few and two examples.

“I did all the pulling down from shelves, while Zora poked her ears and dipped her mind into grown folks’ business–then shared everything she learned with me.”

“Zora, though, didn’t have a speck of laughing in her. Joe Clarke saw that, and I watched him put his own smile in his pocket as he sat down on a little end of the bench to face Zora eye to eye.”

“Walking home later, I thought about the differences between a mama’s girl and a daddy’s girl. I decided that a daughter who belongs to her daddy expects gifts, while a daughter who belongs to her mama expects a lot more. Not from her mama. From herself.”

“What Mama couldn’t put away in her heart, she always found a place for in a drawer or cupboard.”

“I don’t know how to explain that moment except to say that, before the moving pictures and before the radio, folks were accustomed to silence; we even used to hug up on it once in a while. I never thought of it as special then, that we could just sit and stare and luxuriate in the comfort of our own thoughts.”

Recommendation: I unintentionally read two books that both deal with race in the same week. I don’t know how I stumble into these coincidences, but the moral of this week is this: Read them both. Get a young lady and a gentleman’s perspective, enjoy yourself, and maybe learn a thing or two along the way.

Published: October 2010 by Candlewick Press.

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