Sunday, April 22, 2012

Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger

Bones is ten and she and her family live in the Florida swamps in the 50's.  Have you ever taken a jet boat ride through the swamps?  If you do, you'll never forget it.  This is a story about the swamp before when times were simpler and big business hadn't moved in yet.  I won't forget this story either.

Delacorte Press and Edelweiss allowed me to download a digital galley of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 8th.

Bones father is an Miccosukee Indian and her mother is a white woman.  They live in the swamp in a cabin that has no electricity and hardly any amenities, but they're happy there.  They fish for food, trade goods, share their crops and animals, and they get along.  Her Dad sometimes sells bootleg whiskey and recycles other people's belongings, but they don't talk about that. Life is simple and easy, Bones has lots of friends, and everyone is happy.  

That is, until they find a Yankee her Dad argued with buried at the edge of their acreage and her Dad can't explain to the sheriff where he was that night.  That's when Bones learned that her Dad hadn't told her the truth about where he'd been that evening and it creates a hole in her heart.  Especially since there's another death shortly after that is unexplained.

This is a very authentic look at swamp people and their lives.  The author works in the way Indians live, swamp folklore, discrimination, murder, how strange old people can be to the young, how mean some people can be, and how kind other people are.

Ms. Ashley-Hollinger has written a story of depth that brings to life the 50's and the issues of that time.  This would be a good read aloud story with discussion about the things happening.  Not everything is pleasant, but it's how life was.  This historically accurate story is engaging and educational.

Happy reading.

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