With voter disenfranchisement in the news today, here is a historical novel about the brutal repression of African American voters that brought an end to the short-lived Reconstruction era. Shining a light on the seldom-told story of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, Wright creates the character of 5th grader Moses Thomas whose father is an alderman and a reporter for the Wilmington Daily Record, the only African American paper in the South.
Through young Thomas the reader learns of the day-to-day life in the black community, including adventures with friends and conversations with his grandmother who lived for decades in slavery. The tension mounts as the signs increase of the white supremacist Red Shirts’ plans to use violence to prevent blacks from voting and to shut down the paper. The book includes many real people and events.
ISBN: 9780375873676 | Published by Random House.
“The expert blending of vivid historical details with the voice of a courageous, relatable hero makes this book shine.” – School Library Journal
“Wright has taken a little-known event and brought it to vivid life, with a richly evoked setting of a town on the Cape Fear River, where a people not far from the days of slavery look forward to the promise of the twentieth century.” – The Horn Book Magazine
“This thought-provoking novel and its memorable cast offer an unflinching and fresh take on race relations, injustice, and a fascinating, little-known chapter of history.” – Publishers Weekly
“Relying on historical records, Wright deftly combines real and fictional characters to produce an intimate story about the Wilmington riots to disenfranchise black citizens. An intensely moving, first-person narrative of a disturbing historical footnote told from the perspective of a very likable, credible young hero.” – Kirkus Reviews