Emily Prudhomme is terrified of her stepfather, and for good reason. A man who was raised by an abusive father and uncle, he is convinced that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is talking to him personally through a radio he keeps in his office. Emily, alienated by her stepfather’s bizarre behaviour, is befriended by Glorious, an African-American girl with beautiful amber-coloured eyes and the ability to see the thoughts of others. Outcast because of their differences, the girls become fast friends. When a tragic accident occurs on the banks of the Little Missouri river leaving one girl dead and the other hopelessly maimed for life, rage and revenge creates a firestorm that not only destroys a town but the lives of two families.
Review: This is a very intense and stirring story set during the late ‘60s, a particularly troubling time in US history. Racism is rampant, but at the same time lawmakers are legislating desegregation on a unwilling populace. One thing Ms. Snodgrass portrays particularly well in this story is both sides of the conflict. It wasn’t only the whites who didn’t want blacks in their schools, the blacks didn’t particularly want to go to a white school, either. Bad decisions and poor choices were made on both sides and the mounting tension finally results in a horrific explosion of violence and hatred. In the end, two young girls, lifelong outcasts who found friendship for the first time with each other, are thrown headlong into that violence. And when the wheels of justice roll, they end up rolling right over their families. As sad and shocking as this story was, I enjoyed it very much. It’s a story that is powerfully told and held my attention to the very end. I think the saddest thing about the story is how very believable it is. Thank you, Ms. Snodgrass, for writing such a poignant story and for treating the issues with such respect. Job well done!