Zora Neale Hurston was an influential African-American author who died in 1960 at the age of 69. Zora & Me (2011) is a fictionalized account of her childhood adventures. This sequel, released in 2018, was a long time in coming. If you missed the original story, no problem as this one stands on its own. Be prepared for a gripping tale that will pull hard on your emotions. Thanks to Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal for introducing this book to me last year.
A suggestion before you start: turn to the back of the book and read Zora’s biography and timeline of important events. It gives you even more purpose for what occurs in the The Cursed Ground.
The tale begins in Eatonville, Florida in 1903. Twelve-year-old Carrie narrates and is Zora’s best friend. Together they begin to unravel the mystery behind who attacked Mr. Polk, a mute landowner who lives nearby. Old Lady Bronson comes to help and makes them promise to not tell anyone, especially that Mr. Polk can speak actual words.
Okay, after three chapters I’m hooked. But then comes chapter four and a new story begins, set in a plantation in 1855. Narrated by Lucia, a slave girl, I knew there had to be a connection to the 1903 story. The book continues, going back and forth with alternating sections consisting of a few chapters for each setting.
The melding of the two stories is an amazing piece of literary work. You’ll experience heartbreak at what slaves had to endure and feel sad this ever went on in our country. …slavery was a living death. But through it all is a sense of community and the power formed by those who believe.
One of 2018’s best middle grade reads!
THE OFFICIAL PLOT (From AMAZON)
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: ZORA & ME—THE CURSED GROUND by T.R. SIMON
- The treatment of the slaves is not downplayed, as it shouldn’t. You’ll wince as they are beaten for not obeying, and feel their confusion as to why white people hate them so much.
- Zora and Carrie are perfect mates to be sneaking around uncovering answers to what they don’t understand.
- A timely read about racial tensions and what causes them. Perfect for a class of sixth graders to discuss and learn.
- Not pure historical fiction, but you learn just as much.
- The characters, both young and old, are unforgettable. An important read for all races.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
T.R. Simon holds an M.A. in cultural anthropology and is an adjunct lecturer at the City University of New York Publishing Certificate Program where she teaches a course on children’s book publishing. She and her husband live in Westchester County, New York with their daughter, and very cuddly dog.
For much more, visit her Author website
Discussion Guide (From Candlewick Press)