(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
Midnight Without a Moon

By Linda Williams Jackson.

Ages 10 to 13.

Rose Lee Carter, 13, wonders how much more she can take of her small-town Mississippi life. Rose narrates “Midnight Without a Moon,” which takes place in 1955 over the course of four months, and she never tries to make her situation any prettier than it is.

The book’s opening scenes show how scary her life can be. Some young white men in a pickup truck threaten her as she tries to run an errand for her grandmother. She then comes home to find that her mother is moving to Chicago with her husband and his two young children. Rose and her brother have lived for years with their grandparents, and their mother doesn’t even mentio n bringing Rose and her brother with them. Rose is stuck with her grandmother, Ma Pearl, who often yells at her and hits her as punishment.

Thank goodness Rose has a strong sense of self-worth and a best friend, a boy known as Hallelujah because that was the first word he ever said. (He is, you guessed it, the son of a preacher.) Rose and Hallelujah talk through their problems and give each other news that is otherwise kept from kids. They both want to know more about how two young African American men were killed nearby that summer.

Through Rose, author Linda Williams Jackson looks straight at grim realities. She doesn’t want to give a rosy portrait of a terrible time. Jackson shows the conflicts within this black family, as well as the ways white people treated their black neighbors. Jackson uses an actual event, the Emmett Till murder and trial, as a central story line, and suggests that some folks, such as Ma Pearl, were eager to blame the victim or his parents for the misdeeds of the actual criminals.

Young readers should be aware that the book includes many examples of racially charged language. A native of small-town Mississippi, Jackson seems intent on accurately portraying a time, a place and the determined outlook of a 13-year-old girl.

You might also like …

Set in the early 1930s, Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper features a young girl who thinks for herself — and chooses bravery — in the segregated South. First in a trilogy, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia follows three smart New York City girls as they visit their mother in California.

Next week

The Way Home Looks Now

By Wendy Wan-Long Shang.

Ages 8 to 12.

Baseball was the shared love of Peter Lee’s family. But that was before the accident, the one that killed his older brother. Now Peter’s mom sits in front of the TV day after day, not talking. The 12-year-old decides to play baseball again to try to cheer her up. The plan gets complicated when his old-school dad volunteers to coach the team.

How to join

The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 5 to 14. Children may read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book here.) The first 500 kids registered will receive a drawstring book bag. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2017 or send the child’s first and last name, age and address to KidsPost Summer Book Club, The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.