The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I LOVE THIS BOOK.
So much to say!
The kid-me would have loved this. And the adult-me also loves it. Bonus: I listened to it, and Cherise Boothe did an outstanding job with the different voices.
Plot in a nutshell: Candace and her mother are staying at her grandmother's house in Lambert, South Carolina, while her father gets their family home in Atlanta ready for sale. Her parents have split up; her grandmother died; and now Candace has to spend the summer away from her friends. Oh, and Candace's grandmother was the one-time city manager of Lambert -- a job she left in disgrace when a letter promising buried treasure led her to dig up a city park.
Candace discovers that letter in a box of her grandmother's and realizes her grandmother wasn't totally wrong. There is a treasure to be found. And Candace, along with her new friend and neighbor, Brandon, are just the two to figure it out. Candace loves games; Brandon loves books like The Westing Game; and combined, the two are unstoppable.
About that letter: it references a dark chapter in Lambert's history, when an African American family was violently driven from the town: high school coach Enoch Washington, his wife, and their daughter, Siobhan. The letter writer wants the town to remember the family, remember what happened, name those responsible. The prize? Millions -- some to go to the town, to help it, and some to the people who figure it. Candace hopes that if she solves this, not only will she get the money to save her house, but she'll also redeem her grandmother's legacy.
Why I loved this: a treasure! To hunt for! I adored books where a kid's family inherited a house and discovered a mystery and a treasure. The sad realization that, all things considered, I had no mysterious rich relatives who were going to die and leave me a mansion with secrets.
There is no mansion with secrets; instead, there is a whole town. The secrets are the hiding in plain sight ones: racism, and the different ways it impacts different generations. Secrets because people are afraid to tell them, but also because they can be too painful to tell.
The book jumps around in time: as Candace and Brandon learn more about the Washingtons in the present, the book jumps back to tell more about them, sometimes sharing details that Candace and Brandon are unaware of. It's a great way for the mystery to be revealed.
Fun fact: Candace mispronounces Siobhan's name at first. I know, Candace. I have a relative with this name, and man, the way it was mispronounced from just reading it in a letter.
One final point: I've never read The Westing Game. I know! I hope to correct this soon.
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