FICTION

Leaving Lymon

Holiday House. Jan. 2020. 208p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780823444427.
COPY ISBN
Gr 3-7–This companion to Finding Langston is set between the years of 1938 and 1947 when African Americans lived under Jim Crow laws. The novel opens with Lymon and his paternal grandparents, Ma and Grandpops, visiting Parchman Farm, where Lymon’s father is incarcerated. In the evenings, Grandpops teaches Lymon how to play Delta blues on the guitar. When Grandpops dies, Ma and Lymon move from Mississippi to Milwaukee to be near family, and Lymon takes Grandpops’ guitar with him. Lymon’s frustration with his father’s absence and school discipline leads to truancy, which Ma overlooks as she grows ill. When Ma has to be hospitalized, Lymon’s mother, who lives in Chicago, takes him in. Unfortunately, Momma’s husband Robert beats Lymon, breaks his guitar, and takes money that Aunt Vera sent to Momma. Lymon runs away with the money, and ultimately lands himself in the Arthur J. Andy Home, a juvenile detention center. Like its predecessor, this novel is set during the Great Migration, and readers learn that Lymon is one of Langston’s bullies. Cline-Ransome focuses on the unfair treatment of black men and boys, a problem that endures today. Throughout the story, location and music are tied to Lymon’s character arc: when Lymon is able to play in the band at the juvenile detention center, he begins to envision his new life with Ma and Daddy. Major and minor characters are equally well crafted. Through characters of all ages, Cline-Ransome explores how a person’s treatment of others is developed through nature and by the circumstances they have been dealt.
VERDICT Balancing rich history and timeless themes of race, instability, and the importance of music and the arts, this title is another must-have from Cline-Ransome.

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