Friday, November 18, 2016
Stella & Turtle: 2 Historical Fictions
I recently read two books called Stella by Starlight and Turtle in Paradise.
Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper is about a girl living in the all-black section of Bumblebee, North Carolina in the strictly segregated south in 1932. She battles her fears about the rising threat of the KKK, and her struggles with expressing herself. There were many things to fear in her day. Imagine never being allowed to go out at night, seeing men in white hoods burning crosses in your backyard, or watching your friend being beaten for buying a bag of candy. These were all the things Stella and others like her experienced in the story. I learned quite a bit about what people would have felt during this time period - fear, oppression, anger, injustice, hopelessness.
Where did the name "Conch" come from? One theory is that during the American revolution the English officials heavily taxed the food in Florida like they taxed tea in Boston. Legend has it that the locals said they'd rather eat conch than pay taxes. They did just that, creating 27 different ways of cooking it. I find this shows quite clearly the sense of humour and indomitable spirit of the Conchs. A group of rambunctious boys in the story who call themselves the "Diaper Gang" is a good example of this. If you want to find out why they are called the "Diaper Gang", read the book!
These two stories have many similarities. They are both set in roughly the same time period, narrated by female protagonists of similar age both living in tight knit communities, resulting in strong family bonds and deep friendships. They share a similar message: home is where family is, be yourself, and hardships don't last forever! Both of these were very enjoyable reads and I definitely recommend them.