How High the Moon

Little, Brown. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316484008.
Ella, a young African American girl, lives with her grandparents and cousins in 1944 segregated South Carolina but dreams of living with her glamorous, jazz-singing mother in Boston. When she finally receives an invitation to spend Christmas with her mom, Ella is awed to see that Boston isn’t segregated. No one comments on her light skin or tells her what fountain to drink from. Her mother looks white people directly in the eyes and is called “ma'am.” After a month, Ella returns to a divided town, where her friend George has been arrested for allegedly killing two little white girls. Parsons's stunning debut is told in alternating chapters from Ella’s and her two cousins' perspectives. Ella and her family are well-drawn characters who navigate the realities of racism while still finding love and acceptance within their community. The author doesn’t flinch from describing the realities of history, yet she imbues Ella's story with hope.
VERDICT Best known for playing Hilary on TV’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Parsons has penned a vivid, compelling tale that will stay with readers long after they turn the final page.

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