Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Billy by Albert French



1937.  Mississippi.  Two teenage girls.  Two young boys, ages ten and twelve.  A fight ensues and one of the girls ends up dead.  The community is outraged and more interested in revenge than justice.  Why?  The girls are white and the boys are black.  Should that matter?  Regardless, it does.  French unapologetically drops the reader right into the times with all its prejudices glaring.  It’s impossible to avoid an emotional reaction to Billy.  The grief of the families’ losses, Billy’s confusion about what’s happening to him as well as what happened during the fight, and the blatant racism all serve to make the reader question whether things have really changed since 1937 or whether all that racism really just boiling under the surface searching for any excuse to break free.

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