November 3, 2016
Last in a Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre
When one of the “in” girls asks Lou what she’s doing that summer, Lou panics. She doesn’t want to admit that her plans consist of nothing more than long Tennessee summer hours spent with her best friend Benzer, her cousin Patty and her friend Franklin. The foursome spend as much time as possible together, much of it at Lou’s run down old house.
Lou promises that she has something exciting in the works. Desperate to make this so, she gets out an old family Bible and gets Benzer to pray with her. If God grants her an exciting summer, she’ll start going to church.
But the excitement she finds isn’t something she would wish on anyone. The town is going to tear down her home unless she can find a way to save it. The problem is that her parents don’t know that she knows so she and her friends have to take care of things on the sly.
Franklin’s is working on his American Heritage scouting badge. Because of this, he’s read up on the National Register of Historic Places. If they can get Lou’s house on the registry, the town can’t tear it down. That means that they need to find a nearby Civil War Battle.
Lou and Benzer like Franklin’s plan but they have a back up plan. Find the long-lost Confederate gold that Lou’s ancestor was accused of stealing.
As the kids dig and explore, they find out some ugly truths about their community. The art studio used by Lou’s mama? It’s more than just an outbuilding. It was a slave cabin. And all the hidey-holes in the house? They may have been used for more than hiding valuables from the Yankees. Lou is in agony over what is true and what isn’t and what it all means for who she is.
I don’t want to say anything more about the plot of the book and I refuse to give away the ending. Sorry! This is something you really need to read for yourself. Tyre does a top-notch job, tying everything together but also creating an ending that is both surprising and inevitable.
Tyre’s book may be set in the 1990s but it is a story that is as relevent now as it was then. It deals with race issues past and present while exploring personal and community growth and responsibility.
Expect this book to lead to some very deep conversations with no easy answers. I wish I had had this book as a tween with both Confederate and Union roots.