Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

Finished Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, another great book by Gary D. Schmidt. It won the Newbery Honor Medal in 2005. Set in 1912, it's the story of Turner Buckminster, the son of Phippsburgh, Maine's new minister, Reverend Buckminster. Turner's father is stiff and strict. He home schools his son, teaching him Latin and the classics. As the new minister he is eager to please the deacons and other important citizens and often comes across as cold and distant.

Turner's life in the new town is anything but easy. As a minister's son he is held to a much higher standard than the other boys his age. These other boys plague and tease him to no end. He is lonely and friendless until the day he meets a girl named Lizzie Bright Griffin, digging clams along the shore. Lizzie is the first black person Turner has ever known. She is outspoken and determined and filled with fun. She takes Turner in her boat over to Malaga Island to meet her grandfather, also a minister. He meets Lizzie's neighbors and their children and has a marvelous time playing with them and emulating the gulls.

Malaga Island has been home to a black community ever since the end of The Civil War. The local big cheese, Mr. Stonecrop, wants to drive all the blacks off of Malaga Island and develop it into a tourist destination. The families on the island live in cobbled together structures. They keep to themselves and have their own church, school and cemetery. While not grand, their community has deep roots here.

So begins a battle between Stonecrop and his investors and Turner over the rights of the residents of Malaga Island to stay in the place they have always known as home. Some truly shocking things happen, which I will not give away. Schmidt sticks with a harsh reality when all along I expected a miracle. The events concerning Malaga Island are based in fact. Schmidt's novel is engaging, profound and deeply felt. I highly recommend it. He also won the Newbery Honor Medal in 2008 for The Wednesday Wars.

No comments: