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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going

Found you a little gem for the Treasure Chest…

This sweet story is about the liberation-from-fear of Gabriel King, a nervous fifth-grader, who is determined not to enter the 6th grade. While his list of fears is extensive:

Spiders
Rope-swings
Basements
Girls
etc...

… nothing compares to his fear of the sixth-grade bullies.

Enter Frita. His best friend. His determined companion dedicated to liberating him from his fears.

They tackle them, one-by-one, by creating a list of everything they are afraid of and crossing off the items that they face together.

Thus, Frita helps him track down and adopt spiders as pets. She helps him swing off the rope swing into the pond, and she helps him face down her big-and-intimidating brother, Terrance.

And yet… yet… Frita, with her much-smaller list-of-items-she-fears, has some that put Gabes’ fears into perspective.

Frita is black, and Gabriel is white, and even in 1976, that can pit you against some scary prejudice.

This story is about overcoming racial prejudice, and while it brushes against the insidious evil of racism, and alludes accurately to violence and hate, it does it without overwhelming the young reader.

Balanced against the jerk who calls Frita a racial slur, is Gabriel's white family who stands up for her, not for politically-correct brownie points but just because she’s Frita… and ugly prejudice has no place in their community of people.

Gabe gains a new perspective by the end of the story. (you have to read to find out how). And… he realizes that love (the agape-sort here), perfectly casts out fear. Frita actually needs him. And with parents who love like his do, he finds the strength to be like them and rise to the occasion….

In addition to fine-story-telling, there’s a bit of modern history lessons. There was a succinct synopsis of the Watergate affair. The author is an unabashed fan of Jimmy Carter, and the example given for supporting him is a fine one. Instead of focusing on political issues, the reason Gabriel's father gave for voting for Carter was the latter's integrity in refusing to give into pressure to not do business with blacks when he owned businesses in Georgia. (Kudos to Jimmy.)

SAFETY RATING: 3 Flags

See: Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Discrimination Based on Race: 1935

Historical Fiction: 1970's; America; Jimmy Carter; Nixon

2 comments:

Anonymous,  October 31, 2010 at 9:22 PM  

IT FUCKING SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!

Tween Lit Crit November 7, 2010 at 4:03 PM  

I know I really shouldn't engage this on the internet, but since I accidentally hit the publish button on this stalker, I'll one-time make this effort.

Do you have a mother?

Does she let you speak like this?

If yes, you are beyond help.

If no, listen to your mother. God gave her to you for a reason.

BTW, I am a mother. And a woman. And any person who comes into my home and speaks like this, gets tossed out on their ear.

Grow up; enter society, and speak like a mature, thinking person so that people may actually give you a hearing, not to mention a job.

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