Sunday, May 25, 2014

Walking and Listening to "The Mighty Miss Malone"

Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Mighty Miss Malone. Listening Library. 2012. $39.60. ISBN 978-0307968227. Digital download from Overdrive.

In my mind, Christopher Paul Curtis can do no wrong and The Mighty Miss Malone is no exception. Every story he tells sucks you in, has you believing in the characters and feeling all that they feel. His descriptions of certain situations and events make you feel as though you are standing right next to the characters, experiencing it right along side them. The only fault I could find in his books is that they end. I didn't want them to. I'm never ready for them to. This is a sign of an amazing book.

The Mighty Deza Malone is one tough cookie who is not only bright, but has more faith, hope and resilience than one would expect any twelve year to have, especially with all that is going on in her life. Her father, Rosco, has suffered many set backs and  decides to leave the family to go and find work in Flint, promising to contact them when he is settled. Life for Deza, her brother Jimmie and their mother isn't easy once he leaves.  After her mother loses her job, they decided to leave Gary, Indiana and head to Flint to find Rosco. When the Malone's arrive in Flint and are unable to find Rosco, they end up living in Hooverville, a shanty town which is a  30 minutes walk from Flint. While her mother is able to find work, Deza enrolls in school and experiences prejudice in a way that she hadn't before. One evening, after singing for the camp and being told that people would actually pay to hear his voice, Jimmie sneaks off in hopes of earning some money to help support his family. After Hooverville is raided by the police, Deza and her mother must start over again. Will they ever find Rosco? Will Jimmie make it as a singer? Those questions and more can only be answered by reading or listening to the book.

Bahni Turpin was just a delight to listen to. I appreciated how she made Deza sound like a child her age would. This doesn't happen often audio books, often times when the reader does attempt a child's voice, they get it all wrong. Ms. Turpin got it all right, it was authentic and genuine. Deza's "second brain" voice was so much fun and the perfect match, sinister, sly, up to no good voice. When Ms. Turpin sang as Jimmie, you felt Jimmie grow taller as Deza had described him. It was lovely.

Bonus Feature! Christopher Paul Curtis reading the Afterword of the book. Hearing from him the importance of the Joe Lewis and Max Schmeling boxing match was key to this story. I hope people don't skip it as they read or listen to this book. 

Favorite chapter title: The Man in the Beautiful Two-Toned Shoes

Here is a picture I took one morning as I was walking and listening. It was HOT and only 6:30am. This summer is going to be brutal.



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