The Parker Inheritance
The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It's waiting for Candice Miller. When Candice finds the letter, she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother, after all, who left Lambert in a cloud of shame. But the letter describes a young woman named Siobhan Washington. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. Grandma tried and failed. But now Candice has another chance. So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues in the letter. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter's promise before the summer ends?

The Parker Inheritance Details

TitleThe Parker Inheritance
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 27th, 2018
PublisherArthur A. Levine Books
ISBN-139780545946179
Rating
GenreMystery, Childrens, Middle Grade, Historical, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, African American

The Parker Inheritance Review

  • Betsy
    January 1, 1970
    The other day I was asked to come up with ten children’s book equivalents to Claudia Rankine’s book Citizen (which, should anybody ask you, is not for kids). To do this, I wanted to include a range of different kinds of books at different ages. Picture books and nonfiction titles. Early chapter books and poetry. And, of course, socially conscious middle grade novels (books for kids between the ages of 9-12). But as it turns out, books for young people that take a long hard look at systematic op The other day I was asked to come up with ten children’s book equivalents to Claudia Rankine’s book Citizen (which, should anybody ask you, is not for kids). To do this, I wanted to include a range of different kinds of books at different ages. Picture books and nonfiction titles. Early chapter books and poetry. And, of course, socially conscious middle grade novels (books for kids between the ages of 9-12). But as it turns out, books for young people that take a long hard look at systematic oppression in America in the 21st century are nine times out of ten written for young adults. On the surface this makes sense. Parsing the complexity of racist systems requires brains. Still, I wanted to include something on the younger end of the scale. Something that’s interesting and fun, but also manages to bring up some pretty serious issues at the same time. You can see where I’m going with this, and it shouldn’t surprise you that that middle grade novel I selected in the end was, The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Until I read that book I’d never encountered a fun, casual middle grade puzzler that was, at the same time, socially conscious on the topic of race in America with a keen sense of how the past affects the present in every way. Come for the puzzle, then. Stay for the biting glimpse of America’s intolerant past. Candice’s grandmother wasn’t crazy or corrupt or anything like that but try telling that to the residents of Lambert, South Carolina. About ten years ago her grandma used her position in the city to dig up some tennis courts on some kind of a treasure hunt. When nothing was revealed she resigned and helped raise her granddaughter elsewhere. Now Candice and her mother have moved to Lambert, temporarily, for the summer while her father attempts to sell their house after the divorce. Candice knows for a fact that her grandma was never the loon some people in town still consider her to be, and she’s even more convinced of this when she finds a mysterious letter in her old things. A letter that insinuates that there’s a treasure to be found if you just look deep enough into the past. Now with the help of the boy next door, Candice is off to clear grandma’s name, find the treasure, and maybe even save Lambert itself. The natural comparison this book practically requires in blood is The Westing Game and that’s understandable. There are innumerable similarities. First and foremost, like Raskin’s classic, the clues aren’t linear or even all that comprehensible. This isn’t a book where each clue is neatly tucked away as a little rhyme in a little envelope, one leading to another. The letter contains all the clues and it’s up to the characters to pick that apart. There is good and bad to that. Unlike, say, an Agatha Christie book, the average child reader is not going to be able to figure out these clues on his or her own. You don’t read a book like this to actually solve the mystery yourself. That’s where the other readalike to this title comes in. As the action started to shift more regularly between Enoch Washington, Siobhan Washington, and other people from the past, to our present day heroes, I was reminded strongly of Holes by Louis Sachar. Think about it. The sins of the past have repercussions in the present day and it’s the kids that have to shoulder that burden. As an author, Varian Johnson doesn’t make this book easy on himself. It would have been the simplest thing in the world to just “Mr. Lemoncello” it and be done with it. You know. Focus on the puzzle, include a single main character with a problem and some bit characters on the side, and keep focused on the goal. Instead, Mr. Johnson prefers to give not just his main characters depth, not just his side characters depth, but the state of the city and, let’s face it, 21st century America as well. The danger he runs in doing this is bogging the story down. He works in a boy who may or may not be gay, divorce, loving but intolerant grandparents, police brutality, the act of passing (and its long-term emotional effects), and much much more. At times it can feel like Mr. Johnson is throwing in everything and the kitchen sink into his story, but as you read on, the plot stuff settles into place. Personally, I read this book in fits and starts, and I can tell you that that is not the way to read “The Parker Inheritance.” This book requires a dedicated, steady read without interruptions. Otherwise you find yourself saying, “Wait. Who’s Siobhan again?” The author also touches on topics that I’ve never seen any middle grade novel for kids discuss. Take the end of segregation. At one point the grandparents are explaining to our baffled heroes that when the black schools were dissolved it had an detrimental effect on the community. “…if you were black, Perkins was your school.” And they go on to mention that back then high school was like college to them and that it meant something to graduate from there. There are other examples. I’ve been looking for the middle grade equivalent to The Hate U Give for a while now and though this book doesn’t really veer too deeply in that direction, it does address issues of police and the abuse of adults in power. Oh. And it mentions that the Hoo family in The Westing Game is stereotypical. Good points all. And I liked the character moments. Those little telling details that say so much more about a person than a thousand lines of text ever could. One great example comes in the description of Big Dub. Describing why he was a fan of tennis the book says, “He liked that he didn’t need to depend on anyone else to win a match.” The flashbacks to the past are interesting because in the present day you are seeing everything alongside Candice. You don’t know anything contemporary that she doesn’t know. The past is different. There the reader is omnipotent. You can get into the heads of every player, understand every motivation, and never be left in doubt of why they do what they do. The tradeoff for that kind of knowledge is that the author has to let you have everything in pieces with trust, on the reader’s part, that this is all going to make sense at the end. I am happy to report that though it’s a little shaky at the start, once the author gets going he really sucks the reader in. And, best of all, there’s not a single dangling plot thread left by the close. Plenty of questions for a sequel, oh yes indeed. But nothing dangling.I’m going to ask you a question now, and I want you to take it seriously. Here goes. Should a book that discusses incredibly serious topics have a sense of humor? The answer to that question is one that I’ve been pondering for a long time. I don’t limit it to books either. What is the role of humor, whatever its bent, in documentaries or novels or anything really? We’re living in an age of peak comedy, but writing a book with serious themes, and then working in some humor, poses a definite risk. Too flippant and the tone of the book is off entirely. The goal of an author unafraid of levity is to use it to break tension, humanize the characters, and endear the written pages to the reader. Yeah it’s a risk, but it’s a risk worth running. The Parker Inheritance isn’t what you’d call a laugh riot, but it definitely keeps things light and, many times, amusing. It’s all in the title, of course. The Parker Inheritance. It seems on first glance to be a reference to the actual monetary inheritance that would go to the person that solves the puzzle. Like a natural counterpoint to a title like The Westing Game (another story of rich men with multiple names and masks they hide behind). But take a closer look at that word. “Inheritance”. This whole book is about what we inherit from the past. We get the genes of our ancestors, sure, but we can also inherit their prejudices, views, and systems. Systems that ensure that some folks stay at the top and others at the bottom. I know almost no books that have found a way to clarify this point for young readers. Now I have one. It’s not a lot. Not nearly enough, but at least there’s one out there now. The puzzle may be impossible, but nothing about this book is implausible. The new required reading. For ages 9-12.
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  • Donalyn
    January 1, 1970
    I loved so many things about this book--the characters, the history, and the mystery. This would be a fabulous read aloud or a jumping off place for conversations about racism, family dynamics, and friendship.
  • Jordan Henrichs
    January 1, 1970
    What I liked:- Very ambitious story; Overall, I liked the structure, mixing in flashback point of views to fill in the gaps of the mystery- While not near as refined or effective as either, this reminded me more of Holes than The Westing Game (either way, good books to be compared to)- Reggie and Siobhan's relationship was emotionally effective- Big Dub was a fantastic anti-hero (adult Reggie too, was authentically flawed)- Candice and Brandon's relationship was sweet- Milo (the bully) was very What I liked:- Very ambitious story; Overall, I liked the structure, mixing in flashback point of views to fill in the gaps of the mystery- While not near as refined or effective as either, this reminded me more of Holes than The Westing Game (either way, good books to be compared to)- Reggie and Siobhan's relationship was emotionally effective- Big Dub was a fantastic anti-hero (adult Reggie too, was authentically flawed)- Candice and Brandon's relationship was sweet- Milo (the bully) was very realistic, two-faced, as was his mother (whom he probably learned his haughty bullish traits from)- The subplot of Brandon being bullied nicely mirrored the story unfolding in the flashbacksWhat I struggled with:- While the effort was ambitious, the result was highly convuluted; Lots of story details to keep track of and LOTS of characters to keep track of; Gets easier in the second half of the book- There is really no mystery to solve; Candice and Brandon don't really get to the "puzzle" until halfway into the book and even then, more is revealed to the reader in flashbacks than anything- In fact, I don't have any examples on hand, but often times it felt like Candice and Brandon made contrived leaps just to keep up with the pace with which the author was revealing information in the flashbacks- Candice and Brandon didn't behave like 12 year olds to me; They behaved much older- While I liked that the subplot of Brandon being bullied mirrored what was happening to the Washington's in the past, I still couldn't help but feel that it made the story a little too weighty
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  • Paula Chase
    January 1, 1970
    What makes this book so good are the nuances. It's a mystery and while trying to solve it, the young protags deal with bullying, bigotry and the weight of the past. One of my favorite elements of the story was the way it revolved between past and present. It was like having a YA folded into a MG novel and I was as invested in the story arc of the past as I was in the story arc of the present. The racism is shown in its true brutal form and we're left helpless to watch the young characters proces What makes this book so good are the nuances. It's a mystery and while trying to solve it, the young protags deal with bullying, bigotry and the weight of the past. One of my favorite elements of the story was the way it revolved between past and present. It was like having a YA folded into a MG novel and I was as invested in the story arc of the past as I was in the story arc of the present. The racism is shown in its true brutal form and we're left helpless to watch the young characters process it. It's the type of story that refuses to make nice about racism and its impact. Those looking for a way to talk on the topic with young readers could start here.
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  • Cassie Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    What a fantastic story of friendship, differences, struggles, and love - with a dash of adventure, mystery, and history. I was so inspired by so many little comments throughout that it makes me want to do more, to inspire others to do better out there in the world.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    I've read a lot of opinions on this already from the Newbery goodreads group, so I'll weigh in on what I've already heard.1. There are too many issues for one book: I was OK with this. Except for one part at the very end. They all seemed realistic for a kid to be experiencing and I wasn't overwhelmed.2. The book is too long: Yeah, a little bit.3. The mystery wasn't strong: I agree with this. It was a little confusing and there was much luck involved. I was confused when Candi and Brandon seemed I've read a lot of opinions on this already from the Newbery goodreads group, so I'll weigh in on what I've already heard.1. There are too many issues for one book: I was OK with this. Except for one part at the very end. They all seemed realistic for a kid to be experiencing and I wasn't overwhelmed.2. The book is too long: Yeah, a little bit.3. The mystery wasn't strong: I agree with this. It was a little confusing and there was much luck involved. I was confused when Candi and Brandon seemed to know some details about the past which we had learned through our reading, but I didn't remember how they would have learned those same details. And it was too much work to look back to see if/how they learned them.Also, I'm not a big fan of the cover. It was a complex story with a lot of issues, including some tough ones about race, and the cover seemed younger than the book (though it was fine as a cover. Just not for this book.). Finally, I was confused about a detail at the end. (view spoiler)[How did toddler Candice know Reggie's name (Eggy) when her grandmother didn't know him? I must be missing something. (hide spoiler)]But overall, I would still suggest this to strong middle-grade readers who want a mystery.
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  • Katrina
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. Well-written, but it's no Westing Game. The historical flashbacks dominated, and that story was interesting but there were so many characters to keep track of and I got bogged down. It felt really long--I thought it must be about over and then realized I was only at 50%! I wanted more of the mystery, particularly since the historical parts dealt with heavy themes. Which is fine, but I like to know that's what a book is about going in. So I felt a little tricked into reading something 3.5 stars. Well-written, but it's no Westing Game. The historical flashbacks dominated, and that story was interesting but there were so many characters to keep track of and I got bogged down. It felt really long--I thought it must be about over and then realized I was only at 50%! I wanted more of the mystery, particularly since the historical parts dealt with heavy themes. Which is fine, but I like to know that's what a book is about going in. So I felt a little tricked into reading something "good for me" rather than the fun mystery I was expecting.
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  • Kathie
    January 1, 1970
    This is definitely one of my favorite middle grade reads of 2018. Rich in detail and content, wonderfully written, and highly engaging. ‪This is definitely one of my favorite middle grade reads of 2018. Rich in detail and content, wonderfully written, and highly engaging.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Both a mystery in the vein of The Westing Game (which is cited in the book) and a look at race relations past and present, this is an excellent and vital book. I don't really want to spoil any piece of the puzzle, so just let me say that there is a reason why this book has gotten such good reviews, and so many stars. Varian is a wonderful writer, but this is really a tour-de-force.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    Candice and her author mom move to her late grandmother's home in Lambert, South Carolina while their Atlanta home is being remodeled to put on the market due to her parents' divorce. Candice planned to spend time with her friends that summer, but now she will be alone much of the time as her mom writes. Candice' grandmother served as Lambert's city manager until a letter presenting a puzzle and an opportunity to help Lambert's economy caused her to dig up the tennis courts. She resigned due to Candice and her author mom move to her late grandmother's home in Lambert, South Carolina while their Atlanta home is being remodeled to put on the market due to her parents' divorce. Candice planned to spend time with her friends that summer, but now she will be alone much of the time as her mom writes. Candice' grandmother served as Lambert's city manager until a letter presenting a puzzle and an opportunity to help Lambert's economy caused her to dig up the tennis courts. She resigned due to pressure from the town, leaving the puzzle unresolved. Candice befriends Brandon from across the street. They both share a love for reading. She finds her grandmother's letter in one of her old puzzle books in the attic and enlists Brandon to help her resolve the puzzle. They uncover the outcome of a 1957 tennis match between the black and white schools which forced the town's coach and his family as well as a player to leave town, assuming new identities. Candice and Brandon piece things together to solve the mystery. While I loved the puzzle itself and even the story behind it, I would never encourage a Christian young person to read this as some of the behavior of children and adults clearly defies biblical commands and moral teaching.
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  • Joyce Yattoni
    January 1, 1970
    If you are reading this review you need to run to the closest library, Target or keyboard and get this book now. ❤❤❤❤ this book and I know quite a few teachers who will love it too. I am always looking for good mysteries for students who like that type of story. This book fits the bill. Not only does it have mystery, but it also has a puzzle that the reader is attempting to solve along with the character. Moreover, it is plush with a lot of history. The story flashes back to a time during the mi If you are reading this review you need to run to the closest library, Target or keyboard and get this book now. ❤️❤️❤️❤️ this book and I know quite a few teachers who will love it too. I am always looking for good mysteries for students who like that type of story. This book fits the bill. Not only does it have mystery, but it also has a puzzle that the reader is attempting to solve along with the character. Moreover, it is plush with a lot of history. The story flashes back to a time during the mid 1950’s in the south during segregation and Jim Crow laws. Fascinating story about a small African American community and what it was like to be black and growing up in these difficult times. Did you ever read The Westing Game? Well let’s just say this book was a fav of the authors. Enough said. 🤪
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  • Jayne Bartrand
    January 1, 1970
    possible #mockNewbery2018This book takes on too much.: race relations, Civil Rights history, LGBTQ, divorce, religion, some language. . .and then you have to keep up with all these characters and time jumping/alternating chapters, plus The Westing Game (Raskin) letter/code mystery hidden treasure. . . too muchI'm not sure a middle grades reader would invest in all that.
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  • Aj Sterkel
    January 1, 1970
    Likes: Well, this is a compelling mystery. I was flipping pages frantically near the end. I had to know if the kids would find the treasure!The mystery kept me guessing. I never predicted where the clues would lead. Brandon and Candice are the perfect characters to star in this story because they’re an unstoppable team. They want to prove that the treasure is real and that Candice’s grandmother wasn’t a delusional person who dug up a beloved tennis court for no reason. The kids face constant obs Likes: Well, this is a compelling mystery. I was flipping pages frantically near the end. I had to know if the kids would find the treasure!The mystery kept me guessing. I never predicted where the clues would lead. Brandon and Candice are the perfect characters to star in this story because they’re an unstoppable team. They want to prove that the treasure is real and that Candice’s grandmother wasn’t a delusional person who dug up a beloved tennis court for no reason. The kids face constant obstacles but always find ways to get around them. I badly wanted Candice and Brandon to find the treasure. They deserve it.I love the characters because they are so realistic! Even the side characters are fully developed. I like that the “good guys” sometimes make bad decisions. Nobody is perfect. We all have a snapping point, and we all do things that we regret. The story is split into two timelines: contemporary and historical. The historical chapters explain why this treasure-hunting mystery exists. Both timelines are equally engaging. I never got bored or skimmed ahead to read my favorite point-of-view. I wanted to solve the mystery and know who’s responsible for the mystery’s existence. This is an ambitious, well-crafted novel. I appreciate the skill that went into structuring it.The story tackles important topics (racism, homophobia, divorce, bullying, etc.), but it doesn’t become an “issue book.” The problems don’t feel like they’re put in the novel to be educational. They help shape the plot and the characters’ actions, but they don’t completely take over the story. This book is about two kids solving a mystery. They just happen to encounter problems along the way.Dislikes: Would kids enjoy this book? It’s certainly dense. Kids might struggle with the length, the slowness of the plot, and all of the names and information they have to remember. I had to flip backwards and reread Candice’s grandmother’s letter a few times because I couldn’t remember why the characters were making certain decisions. I like the historical chapters, but I think a few of the early ones could have been removed without hurting the story. The book takes its time getting to the point.The Bottom Line: This book deserves all of the award and praise it’s been getting. An unpredictable mystery with characters who are easy to love.Do you like opinions, giveaways, and bookish nonsense? I have a blog for that.
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  • Trey
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so good.
  • Phil Jensen
    January 1, 1970
    It was so much of what I wanted, but not quite how I wanted it. Varian Johnson delivered the following rare ingredients:* A mystery that is solved by learning history* LGBT issues handled in a PG context* A bully character with more than one dimension* A balance between talking about the history of overt racism contrasted with modern, more subtle racismAnd yet, it falls short. Why? Where did this winning formula go wrong?* The characterization is heavy-handed. If a character is shy about seeming It was so much of what I wanted, but not quite how I wanted it. Varian Johnson delivered the following rare ingredients:* A mystery that is solved by learning history* LGBT issues handled in a PG context* A bully character with more than one dimension* A balance between talking about the history of overt racism contrasted with modern, more subtle racismAnd yet, it falls short. Why? Where did this winning formula go wrong?* The characterization is heavy-handed. If a character is shy about seeming girly, then Johnson lets you know it three times in a row and then has the narrating character comment on it.* This book is at least 100 pages too long. Most of my students would need over two weeks to read it, which is more than they have attention for. Even though it's a mystery story, it's not a "fast" 331 pages in the way that a suspenseful book usually is.* The flashbacks are too good, and the present day material is too weak. Johnson spills all the info in flashbacks, which kills any urgency the characters' investigation might have. As a reader, wading through the present-day chapters seems like a waste of time. All you're doing is watching semi-likable characters blunder around and discover a fraction of the backstory that you already know.* The mystery is really lame. The solution is a mix of bad puns and random addition. It's less like The Westing Game and more like an old episode of Batman.
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  • Danielle
    January 1, 1970
    "Just because you don't see the path doesn't mean it's not there."What an incredible book! In my view this is totally for adults as well. The way the story weaves in interludes from the past with the present was my favorite thing about it, and in doing so it delves deeply into history, racism and oppression, love, friendship, legacy, sexual orientation, and more. This book lets people be complicated and almost never one-note and has a suspenseful mystery at its heart. An expertly written page-tu "Just because you don't see the path doesn't mean it's not there."What an incredible book! In my view this is totally for adults as well. The way the story weaves in interludes from the past with the present was my favorite thing about it, and in doing so it delves deeply into history, racism and oppression, love, friendship, legacy, sexual orientation, and more. This book lets people be complicated and almost never one-note and has a suspenseful mystery at its heart. An expertly written page-turner that explores vividly real-feeling characters navigating injustice in a variety of ways. And the kids at its center are delightfully smart and beautifully true friends. From the Author's Note: "Conditions have slowly gotten better for African Americans, but you only have to look at the questionable shootings of Trayvon Martin in 2012, Michael Brown in 2014, and Philando Castile in 2016, and countless others to realize that life today is still very dangerous for a person of color. But I do believe, if we work together, we can make the world a safe place for all people, no matter their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or religion. We have a long way to go, but I believe we'll get there."
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  • Nikki
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best middle grade books I've read in years. Fast-paced, fascinating, significant while staying fun. I want to read it all over again!
  • DaNae
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite type of book may begin on summer vacation, small town, and a mystery. In a perfect world all kids would have a puzzly break from school which allows them to run rampant through a town with parks and ice cream shops. PARKER INHERITANCE is this type of story. I also love when far flung narratives make their way to a central spot in clever and unexpected ways. PI goes for this too, although it does feel more manipulative than organic. There is a lot going on here (note the extensive tag My favorite type of book may begin on summer vacation, small town, and a mystery. In a perfect world all kids would have a puzzly break from school which allows them to run rampant through a town with parks and ice cream shops. PARKER INHERITANCE is this type of story. I also love when far flung narratives make their way to a central spot in clever and unexpected ways. PI goes for this too, although it does feel more manipulative than organic. There is a lot going on here (note the extensive tags in my collection), and mostly it feels cohesive, and possibly a little shoe-horned in at times.
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  • Abby Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Kids who like puzzle mysteries and solving riddles are going to eat this up. And it's a story with meat on its bones. As Candice and Brandon are researching, they discover a lot of unsavory stuff that happened to the African Americans who started the whole thing in the 1950s. They learn a lot about their families and their town and themselves as they try to piece together where the fortune came from and where it might be hidden.Hand this to kids who love The Westing Game and other puzzle mysteri Kids who like puzzle mysteries and solving riddles are going to eat this up. And it's a story with meat on its bones. As Candice and Brandon are researching, they discover a lot of unsavory stuff that happened to the African Americans who started the whole thing in the 1950s. They learn a lot about their families and their town and themselves as they try to piece together where the fortune came from and where it might be hidden.Hand this to kids who love The Westing Game and other puzzle mysteries with high stakes fortunes.
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  • Clare Lund
    January 1, 1970
    When Candice finds the strange letter in her grandmother's attic with clues about how to uncover a buried treasure, she and her new friend Brandon set out to solve the mystery that her grandma was never able to fully unravel. Along the way, they uncover reveals ugly, racist secrets lurking in the town's past, and a wrong against an entire family that they are hoping to right. I found the constant flashbacks to be a little jarring, and would have preferred to see more of the mystery through Candi When Candice finds the strange letter in her grandmother's attic with clues about how to uncover a buried treasure, she and her new friend Brandon set out to solve the mystery that her grandma was never able to fully unravel. Along the way, they uncover reveals ugly, racist secrets lurking in the town's past, and a wrong against an entire family that they are hoping to right. I found the constant flashbacks to be a little jarring, and would have preferred to see more of the mystery through Candice's eyes, but overall, a great mystery story with important lessons about human nature. Ages 10 and up.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing blend of historical fiction and mystery. I loved this book. Definitely, think it could be up to win the Newberry.
  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    Books are usually aimed at an audience slightly younger than the main characters in the book. Since the present-day heroine and hero are 12- and 11-years-old, that would indicate elementary school kids as the target audience. However, the writing level and issues discussed are at least high-school age to adult, IMO. The main characters from the 1957 era (with chapters from their points-of-view) were high schoolers and adults, so maybe that is the intended audience.Anyway, the present day (black) Books are usually aimed at an audience slightly younger than the main characters in the book. Since the present-day heroine and hero are 12- and 11-years-old, that would indicate elementary school kids as the target audience. However, the writing level and issues discussed are at least high-school age to adult, IMO. The main characters from the 1957 era (with chapters from their points-of-view) were high schoolers and adults, so maybe that is the intended audience.Anyway, the present day (black) kids uncovered what happened in the period around 1957, which dealt with segregation in schools, racism against blacks, and how light-skinned people with black ancestry sometimes lived as whites. The present-day kids dealt with bullying around sexual-orientation issues. Some boys called Brandon names that made Candice think he was gay, Brandon's best friend was gay, and Candice's dad was gay. Candice stood up for Brandon against the bullying. Candice's mom and dad had just gotten divorced, but the reason why came as a surprise to her at the very end. Rather than actually deal with the complex reaction a child would feel at this news, the author had her quickly decide that she felt sad that her parents obviously would never get back together, but she was glad to see her dad with his new boyfriend because her dad was happy.I thought the 1957 story was interesting and showed the affects of racism and how difficult some choices could be. I enjoyed how Candice and Brandon doggedly solved the mystery. However, I felt like the issues the modern kids dealt with were given pat, politically-correct answers. I was disappointed that the author essentially pressured kids not to feel conflicted because they SHOULD feel happy for their gay parent, who will, of course, still totally love them. (In contrast, I recently finished a biography where the gay dad completely abandoned his children when he chose to divorce his wife and wasn't sorry about doing so.) Overall, I was disappointed by the ending, especially that the kids used the money to support sexual-orientation issues when it was intended to be used to help improve the lives and opportunities of the blacks in that area of the city.There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. The racist slurs and gay name-calling was implied rather than actually printed out. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Amazon Vine.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusCandice's grandmother was a city official in the small town of Lambert before she fell into disrepute. She thought there was treasure buried under the tennis courts and had them dug up. When no treasure appeared, she was relieved of her duties. Candice and her mother are spending the summer cleaning out her grandmother's house after her death, and Candice has some letters that indicate there is still a treasure out there. It's a rough summer-- her parents are sepa E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusCandice's grandmother was a city official in the small town of Lambert before she fell into disrepute. She thought there was treasure buried under the tennis courts and had them dug up. When no treasure appeared, she was relieved of her duties. Candice and her mother are spending the summer cleaning out her grandmother's house after her death, and Candice has some letters that indicate there is still a treasure out there. It's a rough summer-- her parents are separated, and her home in the city is being readied to sell, and there's no one to hang out with in Lambert while her mother is working on her book. Luckily, she finds bookish Brandon, and the two bond. She eventually shares the secret of her grandmother's letters with him, and the two follow the very detailed clues, learning a lot about the racial history of the town in the process. Will they finally find the treasure for which her grandmother was searching?Strengths: This offers an excellent view of what life was like in the 1950s for blacks in the South, and it was good to see this through the eyes of modern children. Candice's life has some challenges, since she misses her grandmother and her parents' separation has a bit of a twist to it, but her parents are supportive and present, and the mood is generally upbeat. The clues they follow are interesting, and the mystery itself is deliciously convoluted. Weaknesses: This took me about four days to read. I kept putting the book down and then thinking I was finished. This could have used some tighter editing to make it shorter and more fast paced. I wish the subplot with Brandon being bullied had been left out. What I really think: This reminded me VERY strongly of Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry by Susan Vaught. The investigative process was similar, it involved civil rights, but the end of the mysteries were different. I will buy because this author is popular in my library and the cover is great.
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  • Barb Middleton
    January 1, 1970
    A male high school student asked me to buy several romance ebooks for the Kindle. He didn't want to be "seen" carrying print copies just like the character, Brandon Jones, who likes to read "girl" stories. This is just one of many different social issues addressed in this novel giving it depth. Topics cover racism, marginalization, choices, LGBTQ, divorce, bullying and more; however, is written for readers ages 8-12. At the heart of the story is a puzzle being solved by the protagonist, Candice A male high school student asked me to buy several romance ebooks for the Kindle. He didn't want to be "seen" carrying print copies just like the character, Brandon Jones, who likes to read "girl" stories. This is just one of many different social issues addressed in this novel giving it depth. Topics cover racism, marginalization, choices, LGBTQ, divorce, bullying and more; however, is written for readers ages 8-12. At the heart of the story is a puzzle being solved by the protagonist, Candice Miller, and her new friend, Brandon. When 12-year-old Candice moves to Lambert, S.C., for the summer after her parent's divorce, she finds a letter that promises millions of dollars to the city if it can be solved. Candice's grandmother tried to solve it ten years earlier and it cost her job and reputation as the first African-American manager of the city. The author does a terrific job shifting between complex themes bringing it together in a satisfying ending. The character arcs are distinct and the flashbacks reveal Lambert's history of injustice that is good for discussion. The puzzle is tied in with the book, The Westing Game, that the two characters love to read. As they problem solve they make connections with how the mystery was solved in that novel to solve their dilemma. It that made me want to go back and reread the book. The treasure hunt is fun and I particularly like how the author addresses the freedom people choose to live their lives and the consequences of those choices such as the grandmother and Candice's dad. A well-written book that can be as complex as the reader wants to make it.
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  • Bethany Turner
    January 1, 1970
    Book People, an independent bookstore in Austin, Texas, sent me this book because I liked Greenglass House. The Parker Inheritance was a perfect fit. It takes the reader on a puzzling adventure full of surprises, delights, and a large dose of history.
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  • Karyn Silverman
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t think I loved this as much as other people did, although it’s totally solid and enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it to lots of actual middle grade readers. But that visceral love? Nah. Good puzzle, great history and puts oppression and racism into a context (then AND now) that I think is spot on for the intended audience. Poor copy editing though — Ms.McMillan/McMillian seems to change her name every chapter.
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  • Leonard Kim
    January 1, 1970
    Not sure the tricky aspects of this book work as well as in the Greene books, but the historical love story is sympathetic. Listened to the audiobook which, without spoiling anything, may actually make some details more effective. I’d be curious to see how they were handled in print.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I was watching the Oscars last year and was really struck by a comment by the Pakistani director of a rom-com movie. He detailed how he grew up watching movies that primarily featured white characters directed by white males. He loved those movies and had great nostalgia for them but also appreciated how we've grown as a society so that a number of modern day movies feature a wide diversity of characters told by a swath of different voices. I feel this exact same way regarding books. I've read s I was watching the Oscars last year and was really struck by a comment by the Pakistani director of a rom-com movie. He detailed how he grew up watching movies that primarily featured white characters directed by white males. He loved those movies and had great nostalgia for them but also appreciated how we've grown as a society so that a number of modern day movies feature a wide diversity of characters told by a swath of different voices. I feel this exact same way regarding books. I've read several YA books recently that gave a printed word voice to a host of different characters dealing with racial, sexual, and gender issues and stereotypes. And I so appreciated all of these fresh and new perspectives. This is one of those books. I liked the interplay of puzzle and history and the homage to one of my personal favorite books of my youth. My 13-year old daughter really enjoyed this book as well. A worthy read. I thank my dear book club friend for the recommendation!
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  • Jenni
    January 1, 1970
    I think this is an important book. A great middle grade puzzle (shades of The Westing Game, which the author clearly references and it’s obvious he loves), but more importantly an amazing look at the systemic issue of race relations both back in the 50s and 60s as well as today. And in addition to race there are other issues that are raised and discussed well - divorce, LGBTQ just to name a couple - but they don’t seem to overload the story at all. The characters are well written and all seem so I think this is an important book. A great middle grade puzzle (shades of The Westing Game, which the author clearly references and it’s obvious he loves), but more importantly an amazing look at the systemic issue of race relations both back in the 50s and 60s as well as today. And in addition to race there are other issues that are raised and discussed well - divorce, LGBTQ just to name a couple - but they don’t seem to overload the story at all. The characters are well written and all seem so real. Highly recommended.
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  • Cecilia
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book so much!!!! I thought the character development was incredible, the plot was twisty and fun and the time changes were interesting! I especially love the way the character Brendon was so realistic and relatable. The way Varian addresses some of the issues in this book is amazing!!
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