The last few books I've read have been a bit disappointing, so I was overjoyed when I started this. The quality of writing and content was absolutely astounding. Being a bit of a grammar nerd, usually I come across what I call "clumpy" sentences, or phrases that just sound wrong and make me cringe a little, but I found reading this utterly smooth and joyful. The message was also really important: it was all about a little girl learning how hard it was to grow up in a world so utterly biased, and how confusing it can be for a child to begin to learn the implications of race in a world where nothing is fair.
Lily needs to get away from her father T Ray. After the death of her mother (which Lily berates herself for causing), T Ray and one of the coloured fruit pickers from the farm, Rosaleen, who becomes Lily's replacement mother, are the only people Lily's got in the world. Or so she thinks. When Rosaleen goes to put her name down for a vote and is racially abused by some men she reacts aggressively, landing herself a place in the local prison. Due to the racial nature of her attack, she is beaten so badly she is sent to hospital, where Lily breaks her out of.
On the run, they go to the only other place in the world Lily can imagine: the town her mother inscribed on the back of a black Madonna - one of only three of her mother's items that Lily owns. There her and Rosaleen are kindly taken in by three coloured sisters: May, June and August. Although a little skeptical about housing a white girl at first, the sister's start to deal with the racial issues inside and outside of their home all under the guidance of their black Madonna statue. Will this idyll be a haven for Lily and Rosaleen, or will it end in tragedy?
Have you read it? What did you think?