Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon. Candlewick Press, 2010.
Zora and Me is a young adult novel that has garnered much praise since its publication including the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award, an Edgar Award nomination and selection for the Booklist 2011 Top Ten Historical Fiction/YA Junior Library Guild list. The novel is told from the perspective of ten-year old Carrie, best friend of the ten-year old Zora Neale Hurston. Zora, an imminent story teller at a young age, believes one of the local men can turn into an alligator. The murder of an itinerant worker follows close on the heels of Zora’s revelation. Carrie, Zora, and their friend Teddy become convinced there is a gator king in their midst and set out to find the truth behind the murder and the gator king. What they find is life lesson on the role of color in their lives and their community.
I’ve had a bit of a fascination with Zora Neale Hurston ever since reading Their Eyes Were Watching God years ago. I was eager to read this book for that reason even though I don’t normally read YA books. It was interesting to see her imagined as a young girl already deeply immersed in books and storytelling. Zora and Me is a well-written historical mystery with a poignant message. Despite it being fiction, reading Zora and Me makes me want to go back to the work of Zora Neale Hurston and learn more about this important figure in African-American literature. I would recommend this novel to YA readers and Hurston fans without hesitation.