Thursday, August 20, 2009

Alligator Bayou by Donna Jo Napoli

Frank Raymond turns. "Are you asking me about the voting laws?"
"I guess."
"No one can vote in Louisiana unless they've been residents for five years and pay the poll tax."
"That doesn't sound so bad."
"There's a third requirement: you have to read English. That alone is enough."
"Enough for what?"
"To knock out Sicilians, even if they've become citizens. Most Negroes, too." [...]
"They want to keep Sicilians and Negroes from voting," I say slowly.
"There's more of you than there are whites. If you took control, the whole state would change." (64)

Fourteen-year old Calogero is one of six Sicilians living in the small town of Tallulah, Louisiana. Although they've been there for years, tensions are rising as economics and politics collide. The town whites blame them for job and income losses, and the African Americans are suspicious of any white men where 1899 Jim Crow laws rule. But a disagreement regarding goats and watermelons escalate, Calogero realize just how bad things are, and just how important family is to him. Donna Jo Napoli presents a gripping fictional account of actual events in Alligator Bayou.


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