When I Crossed No-Bob: Rachel Rochman

Set in Mississippi after the Civil War, this gripping historical novel tells of the bitter struggle among poor whites and the horrifying rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Twelve-year-old Addy O’Donnell, hungry, needy, and mischievous, relates the story in a spare present-tense narrative. Abandoned by her parents, she finds a home with her newly married teacher, Frank Russell, whose story was told in How I Found the Strong (2004). At times there is too much history and message woven into the story. The hate drama is compelling, though, and it becomes very personal when Addy witnesses a child murdered during the burning of a black school and discovers that her own father is the perpetrator. The simple prose can be pure poetry: “They are one of us. They are who we are. . . He is my poppy. He is who I am.” Readers will be drawn by the history close-up and by the elemental moral choice: doing good is hard, “doing nothing is the easiest of all.” Connect this with stories of Holocaust perpetrators.