Thursday, August 21, 2008

When I Crossed No-Bob

When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan

Set against the backdrop of 1875 Mississippi, When I Crossed No-Bob is the story of twelve-year-old Addy O'Donnell. Addy's pappy ran away a few years ago leaving Addy and her momma to try to eek out a life in post-Civil War rural Mississippi. Life is proving to hard for Addy's momma so she leaves Addy behind and strikes off for Texas and Addy's pappy.

Left by herself at the wedding of two strangers Addy is taken in by the newlyweds, Frank and Irene Russell. It is with great trepidation that Frank (star of McMullan's How I Found the Strong) takes Addy in, after all she is a no-good O'Donnell. O'Donnells are known for two things, being the meanest people to ever walk this earth and living in the swamp of No-Bob.

Addy tries to prove her worth to the Russells as she deals with not only her own misfortunes but those of a state and a county trying to come back from a war that literally tore our country apart. Topics such as poverty, independent rule and most importantly racism are dealt with by Addy and in the end she will have to decide if she is her own person or if she is nothing more than an O'Donnell.

Readers will find Addy endearing and many readers will be able to connect with Addy on a personal level. Whether you have had a hard life, grown-up in a rural area, had a family reputation that wasn't so good, been abandoned by your parents, or just felt like an outsider where ever you went, you will see yourself in Addy. And through her struggles, maybe you will find out a little about yourself as well.

I think that it is important to note her that McMullan does an excellent job of dealing with the topic of racism and that children today could benefit from the lessons taught in this book. There are however terms that were common in the time period (1875) that might offend some readers. However, it is this realism that makes the book that much more realistic and powerful.