I admit it. I’ve read very few novels set in the 1960s or 70s. Typically they just don’t quite live up to my expectations for that time period. Most of the books are centered around segregation, and I find they’re either too preachy or lack enough seriousness on the topic. I’d heard so many good things about Glory Be though, that I was excited to read it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it definitely exceeded my expectations!
Glory Be takes place during the summer of 1964 in a small town in Mississippi. Gloriana, affectionately known as Glory, is looking forward to a summer of swimming in the public pool and impatiently awaiting her twelfth birthday. Things start to go downhill fast though! It all starts with the pool closing, because of supposed needed repairs. Glory doesn’t understand the real reason behind the closing and is worried that she won’t be able to hold her birthday party there, like she does every year. Her strong headedness and unrelenting need to understand why the pool has “really” been closed pulls her into the troubling issues of segregation.
As she watches adults, deals with her ex-best friend Frankie, and spies on her sister Jesslyn, Glory’s understanding of segregation and how it is wrong grows. She takes action, in her own way, trying to make her voice heard.
What I really liked about the book is it wasn’t just about discrimination. Glory also struggles with her older sister Jesslyn, who suddenly has a new boyfriend and doesn’t have the time of day for her. Being an older sister and having gone through the same thing, their relationship really rang true to me and added to the story. Glory has difficulties with her best friend and she also meets new people and learns from them. The heart of the story does deal with a difficult topic, but the story is also about sisters, love, friendship, understanding, courage, and forgiveness.
On a side note, take a moment to check out Scholastic’s Mother Daughter Book Club. Glory Be is Scholastic’s first book! They’re offering a free Skype visit with the author! And there are some great discussion questions and a recipe that was adapted from the book!