Reviews for Yankee Girl
Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 March 2004
Gr. 4-8. Based on the author's experience as a white child of an FBI agent who was sent to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1964 to support the fight for civil rights, this first novel brings the terrifying racism close-up: the name-calling (including the n-word), the cruel segregation, the Klan violence. Alice ("Yankee Girl") Moxley, the new girl in school, is desperate to be accepted, but she knows how much worse it is for her classmate Valerie, the only black student. Introducing each chapter, newspaper headlines chart the political struggle, but the honesty of Alice's narrative moves this beyond docu-novel. She's much more concerned with the Beatles and clothes than with politics--but the racism is always there. She admires a classmate who challenges the in-crowd, but Alice is not a noble freedom fighter; she likes Valerie and talks to her, but only when no one else is around. The real tension is whether Alice can move from being bystander to standing up for what she believes. Rodman shows how hard it is. ((Reviewed March 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
Alice, the daughter of an FBI agent, and her family move from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1964. Longing to fit in, Alice struggles with her classmates' racism toward the only black girl in their newly integrated class. Based on the author's own childhood, the novel explores the moral choices faced by children and the price of courage. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2004 March #2
"Living in Mississippi was like living in a foreign country" to 11-year-old Chicago native Alice Ann Moxley. Her FBI-agent father has just been transferred to Jackson to help protect voter registration, and Alice observes racism in her neighborhood and narrates her journey through the sixth grade at Parnell School, one of five city schools about to integrate. The abuse she takes as a Yankee outsider is nothing compared to the torment classmate Valerie faces as a new "colored" student, and when things get ugly Alice has to decide which is more important-fitting in or doing the right thing. Rodman's debut, rooted in her own experience, effectively portrays the layers of prejudice in a Mississippi town in 1964. Each chapter opens with a headline from the Jackson Daily Journal, offering a parallel narrative of bombings, murder, and arson as locals attack civil-rights workers. Though too purposeful, with Alice sometimes seeming more a reporter than a fleshed-out character, the novel is rich in detail and lively writing. An important addition to the field. (author's note) (Fiction. 10+) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Review 2004 April #2
In this impressive debut novel set in 1964, Rodman infuses the familiar struggle of the new girl in town with immediacy, danger and historical relevance. Alice Ann Moxley, daughter of an FBI agent, moves from Chicago to Mississippi right before sixth grade begins and just as her new school receives its first "colored" students. As she takes in the local customs (seventh graders wear lipstick, the ladies all have maids because "nigras work for nothing"), Alice yearns to fit in with the popular and powerful cheerleading crowd, but they ignore her except to brand her Yankee Girl. She briefly and unsuccessfully attempts to befriend the lone black student, Valerie Jackson, who braves the initial crowds of jeering adults and seemingly ignores the cheerleaders' constant taunts and increasingly nasty pranks. The girl bullying theme may be universal, but what makes this novel stand out are the compelling threads in Alice's outsider's insights on the Southern milieu, her friendship with the boy next door, the institutionalized racism (a glamorous teacher disinfects her desk after Valerie touches it; a shop clerk won't allow a black customer to try on a dress), and Alice's fears as the KKK stakes out their house. Despite one or two unnecessarily neat plot twists, Rodman shows characters grappling with hard choices, sometimes courageously, sometimes willfully, sometimes inconsistently, but invariably believably. Whether or not readers are familiar with civil rights, they are likely to find this novel memorable because it so strikingly identifies the bravery, cruelty and vulnerability of characters their own age. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 April
Gr 4-8-Alice Ann Moxley's father works for the FBI and has been transferred from Chicago to Jackson, MS, in 1964 to protect civil rights workers and individuals registering to vote. Taken aback by everything from Southern accents to the way black people are treated, Alice finds it very hard to adjust and nearly impossible to make friends. She's quickly branded "Yankee Girl," and the one friend she finds, the boy next door, abandons her when school starts-late this year, due to fear of integration. Alice's school is indeed being integrated, by two daughters of an important ally of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Valerie Taylor is in Alice's sixth-grade class, and although they are both outsiders, Alice is torn between trying to befriend her and trying to fit in with the popular girls. As the civil rights movement heats up, the Ku Klux Klan begins to focus on Alice's family. It takes until spring for her to sort out her inner conflicts, and by then tragedy has occurred and her reality has been shattered. Chapters begin with dated headlines that build a framework for the story. Some of the language is troubling, but it's also appropriate and adds to the increasing tension. Constant references to the Beatles embellish the '60s flavor, and the dialogue and narrative flow naturally. In an author's note, Rodman reveals that she lived this story 40 years ago, and readers who make it past the dull cover art will live it as well.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2005 April
The daughter of an FBI agent, eleven-year-old Alice Ann Moxley is used to moving to different places and making new friends. When she and her family are transferred to Mississippi during the height of the civil rights movement in 1964 so that her father can protect African Americans registering to vote, Alice is dubbed the "Yankee Girl" and has a hard time fitting in with her racially segregated schoolmates. Alice lives in fear of the Ku Klux Klan, something she has in common with the other new student at Parnell School, a black girl named Valerie Taylor. Although Alice and Valerie have a hard time becoming friends, it takes a tragedy to make them both realize that what they have in common with each other is more important than the difference in their skin color. Based on true events from the author's life, this book is a solid middle school read that would satisfy historical fiction fans as well as curriculum requirements. Written in clear language and easy to read, the story progresses quickly and the message is strong. On the surface, it is a classic fish-out-of-water story, and students will respond to Alice's attempts to break the cliques at school and try to make new friends. But the book also has significant messages about the dangers of going along with the crowd and the importance of doing the right thing.-Jennifer McIntosh 4Q 4P M Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.