My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Turner is bullied, beaten, struck out, and left out on a raft.
Not a pleasant welcome for the preacher’s kid to Phippsburg, Maine.
I adored author Gary Schmidt’s juvenile novel, The Wednesday Wars, and wanted to follow it up with another of his offerings. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, did not disappoint.
From the moment Turner moves to Phippsburg, it seems that everything that can go wrong does: he irritates an elderly resident to the point where he must serve his “time” reading to her and playing the organ on a regular basis; he can’t seem to hit the baseball or jump into the local swimming hole, thus becoming the kid that everyone picks on; and then, after being taunted by local bully, Willis Hurd, he lands a punch on his face, only to get Willis’s much harder right hook that lands squarely on his nose.
The one thing that does go right for Turner is his friendship with Lizzie Bright Griffin, an outsider (because she is a Negro) who lives on Malaga Island across the bay from Phippsburg. Lizzie’s family and ancestors have inhabited Malaga Island for years, but that is about to change when the local establishment in Phippsburg wants them removed, so they can create a tourist attraction.
Based on actual historical events from Malaga and Phippsburg – Mr. Schmidt has created a novel worthy of adult readers as well as adolescents.
Turner is a young man every parent would be proud of – but somehow that is lost on Mr. Buckminster, who seems more concerned with pleasing his congregation than trusting his own son.
The relationship between Turner and Lizzie is honest and fresh and mature beyond their years -- but without being romantic. They see beyond their differing skin color and into the depths of their hearts. Their devotion to one another is Shakespearean, and somehow, that plays out in the end.
Ultimately this is a book about love, trust, integrity, friendship, loss and forgiveness.
And when my boys grow up, I want them to be just like Turner Buckminster.
For a brief history of Malaga Island, check out this clip:
Book source: Public library
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