Fantasy and Science Fiction for Children and Teens
Ruba lived in Haiti with her maternal grandmother, Ruba Cleo, who taught Ruba the traditions of the women warriors of Dahoney, Africa, from whom they are descended. But when Ruba Cleo dies battling a storm sent by the Stormwitch, Zashar, Ruba has to move to Mississippi to live with her paternal grandmother, Maizie Jones.
But the Mississippi of 1969 is a far different world than Haiti. Its an explosive world of civil rights and desegregation and the Ku Klux Klan. Its a world where a black person could be killed for crossing the wrong person. And Grandmother Jones is very different from Ruba Cleo, or at least she seems so at first. She wants Ruba to become a good Christian and to give up the witchcraft she learned from Ruba Cleo. She also wants Ruba to keep her head down and say Yes, maam or Yes, sir when talking to a white person. But Ruba, a descendent of proud African warriors, cant do either, as much as she wants to please Grandmother Jones. Soon, Ruba finds herself fighting evil on two fronts, as she runs afoul of the local Klan wizard, just as the Stormwitch approaches with the most powerful storm that Ruba has ever known.
A powerful story told in an accessible way, Stormwitch brings to life both the devastation of Hurricane Camille and the horrors of segregation. It has elements of both fantasy and historical fiction. Its a stroke of brilliance to show a segregated Mississippi through the eyes of a strong black female, who not only grew up away from the culture of segregation and discrimination, but who has the pride that comes from knowing that she is descended from a long line of female warriors. The contrast makes the horror of being a black person in segregated Mississippi that much more real. And through Rubas grandmother and friends, we also see the perspective of the people who did grow up there, people who are trying to change things in their own way. And in the wake of last years Hurricane Katrina, the story of another hurricane that devastated the Gulf coast is so much more meaningful than the author could have envisioned when she wrote this book.
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