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In 1947 racially charged Mills Hollow, South Carolina, Chloe Mason knows not to go near the Negroes who live in the river shacks, especially sixteen-year-old Big Jim. He’s something of a myth, a big, black boy known for eating opossums and howling at the moon. At least that’s what Chloe’s brother Caleb and her Pa, a fiddle playing Southerner who waves a Confederate flag, tell her. Yet, when Chloe slips into Foxhole Swamp, it’s Big Jim who saves her from an alligator. She secretly befriends Big Jim and takes it upon herself to teach him to read, even bringing him a forbidden peach from Widow Jones’ tree. Chloe meets Big Jim in a tree fort he constructs out of wood scraps, and together they endure the injustices Big Jim suffers – like being whipped by Chloe’s father for trespassing. But once her father discovers their secret meetings and is ready to lynch Big Jim, Chloe’s loyalty is tested to the breaking point, calling into question everything she’s come to believe about herself, her family, and what truly matters most.
A Note From the Publisher
"Lisa Belmont transports her readers to the Deep South of the 1940s with her spectacular descriptions, lively and spot-on dialogue, and characters that could only exist in that time and place. This compelling story will keep readers riveted as young Chloe navigates a morass of fear, superstition, and racism to become a young woman who must face the most difficult choices. Don’t miss this beautiful, memorable story."
— Rosi Hollinbeck, Manhattan Book Review