4 out of 4 stars
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Life is not easy as a sharecropper. Everyone in the family is expected to pitch in. Families are large and money is short. It does not sound like an exciting life, but in Blackberry Road by Jodi Leah Stewart, the routine suddenly becomes a mystery. Biddy is thirteen years old and one of eleven children in the family. When a member of the community is murdered, Biddy sets out on a mission to find the killer.
This book took me back to my younger years. I grew up in a large family on a farm. I saw many similarities in the lifestyle of the book characters and my own family. This story was in the 1930’s when money was tight. The country had just gone through the Great Depression. Like most families, there was not a lot of excess anything. Kids wore hand-me-down clothes, and work was expected from each family member. The lead character of the book, Biddy, was a young girl. She wore coveralls and was expected to do her chores every day. Her character showed a toughness resulting from having lots of brothers. She also seemed trustworthy and honest. She kept her sibling’s secrets. She was a good-hearted person. She tried not to cuss even though the words were on her mind. She seemed to like school and she also liked exploring in the woods around their home. I could see a bit of my thirteen-year-old self in Biddy.
The story was written through the eyes of Biddy. The book is well written, although it took me a few chapters to get into the dialect and immerse myself in the book. There were some prejudices in the book. The sharecropper families were considered lesser than others in the community. The blacks were considered uneducated and unworthy. However, there was nothing I really disliked in the story. I thought the book flowed well. The reader could easily picture the house, the woods, and the family because they were all described in depth.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. There are a few errors in the book, but because of the dialect used, the errors did not take away from the flow or context of the book. The book was well written and kept the reader engaged. The mystery around the death of the beloved schoolteacher was surrounded by many twists and turns that made the book exciting. It was difficult to predict the ending, so the reader remained engaged.
The book seems to be written for young adults, but adults will enjoy the book as well. There is some cussing in the book, but it seemed appropriate for the story. There were no sexual scenes. Any young adult who enjoys a mystery will probably enjoy this book.
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