The year is 1963. Yolanda and Fiona have already been friends for two weeks, and Yolanda is in the hospital because some thugs came looking for Fiona’s brother’s stash of drugs. The two aren’t supposed to be friends. Yolanda is black, Fiona is white. But here they are, and Fiona is helping Yolanda escape from the hospital before they release her. Yolanda wants to run away before her mother arrives, her mother who is traveling up from South Carolina, where she lives now, and who is planning to take Yolanda back to South Carolina to live with her. So the two girls sneak out of the hospital, where a distressed woman asks them to watch her dog so she can take her son to see her dying mother. And this is how their adventure begins.
Fiona soon learns that her friendship with Yolanda is going to cause heartache, both at school and at home. At home, she struggles with her family’s desire that she make friends with other white girls. At school, Fiona encounters all the usual cattiness, jealousy, and uncertainty that characterize relationships among young teen girls – but this time, including more than a tinge of racism. As the circle of popular girls widens to include Fiona, she struggles to maintain a friendship with both Yolanda and the other girls. As Fiona learns what friendship is, she also learns who she is.
In this lovely and thought-provoking novel, Mary Ann McGuigan captures the essence of female friendship across racial barriers during the turbulent teen years. For middle school or junior high history teachers, this book will launch discussions about the civil rights movement, JFK’s assassination, and America in the 1960s. A great read and a great addition to school libraries.