Glory Be is one of those slow summer tales, one of those grabby, quiet, important reads that catches you by your shirt tail and holds on, making it difficult to do summer chores like picking blueberries and riding your bike to the library. The book tugs you back again and again, searing its storyline into your skin over and over, making its way gradually to your heart. Yeah, I encourage you to read it.
Glory just wants a great birthday party this summer. Great includes the community swimming pool, her friends, and play. It might include keeping your sister as a close buddy, sneaking away to see what she and her boyfriend are doing, and making sure to steer clear of bully J.T. while hanging out with his brother and your good friend Frankie, but all in that easy summer everything-is-going-just-swell kinda way. It does not include racial tensions, hatred, judgment, losing friends, harsh words, meanness, or closing the swimming pool. Well, I hate to break it to you, but let's just say Glory gets what she doesn't want. As a result, she actually ends up taking some huge risks, figuring out what being an ally sounds like and looks like, what safety is and isn't, and how supportive family and friends can act in a crisis.
One thing I loved most about this mid-'60's- summer- in- Mississippi storyline is its realness. Based partly on the author's college experiences in the segregated south during the Civil Rights movement, as a reader, I felt the dire fragility, tension, and compunction that the idea and action of change caused in those brutally difficult moments. As I read, I kept being pulled back in to this story, gradually drawn into the partial-truth and partial-fiction, the words that need to be heard, and the confirmation that reminds us we still have work to do.