Summertime and The Livin' is Easy
A young girls faith is tested to the limit, by author Edwina Dorch
Jasmine, a ten-year-old Black American girl, is helping her mother, who works as a maid for the Harris family. Dr and Mrs Harris, and their daughter Cindy, are a wealthy family, who live in an affluent gated neighbourhood. Jasmine admires Cindy’s clothes and shoes, and her many books that could fill a public library. Dr Harris notices Jasmine’s tattered shoes that are held together by safety pins, and Mrs Harris gives Jasmine a bag of Cindy’s unworn clothes and shoes. Jasmine dreams of becoming a preacher, but as she compares her own life to Cindy’s privileged life, she loses her faith in God.
At home, Jasmine and her older brother Frankie, are berated by their abusive stepfather, and escape the house to play hide and seek in the backyard. Their stepfather orders Jasmine and Frankie to the store to buy bread, and they use the opportunity to have a little summertime fun. On the way to the store, Frankie dares Jasmine to open the door of a derelict ‘ghost’ house, and Frankie finds an old, discarded wheel. But when they get to the store, Jasmine discovers she has lost her stepfathers money, and fears what her stepfather might do when they return home. The siblings search for the money, but Jasmine falls down a hill and into a manhole. Frankie helps her out, and luckily, she is unharmed. As the pair return home to face their stepfather, with no bread and no money. Jasmine feels lost and powerless, and turns to God for help.
Summertime and the Livin' is Easy by author Edwina Dorch is a powerful middle grade story about a young black girl growing up in North America, trying to make sense of the world around her. This is a short and simple novel, that deals with complex issues of poverty and privilege, power and abuse. Jasmine is an authentic and endearing character, and many readers will relate to her experience. Overall, this is a powerful and thought provoking book, but the symbolism might be lost on some readers of this age category.
Star rating: 5 Stars
Summary: A powerful middle grade story about a young black girl growing up in North America.