Mississippi Bridge

Jeremy Simms is a bored and lonely 10-year-old Mississippi boy who hangs around on the porch of the village store. Most days, he says in this brief, powerful Depression-era story, ”I just sat on that porch, looking out at the rain and the gloom and ain’t nothing much happened to break the expectedness of it all.” Nothing, that is, until the day when the bus to Jackson careens off the rickety bridge over a flood-swollen creek and Jeremy becomes a participant in the drama.

Mildred D. Taylor has already written three splendid, award-winning novels about the Logans, a black land-owning family. In Mississippi Bridge, she’s jumped to a different point of view. Jeremy is white, the son of a mean-spirited local farmer. Like Huck Finn, Jeremy accepts the racism of the day as a given but is troubled by its cruel daily practices — especially because he longs to be friends with the self-sufficient and charismatic Logan children, who regard his awkward overtures with suspicion.

Taylor evokes the currents of conflicted feelings and the painful, pointless losses caused by racism with pungent immediacy. Her black characters especially, as perceived through Jeremy’s eyes, have an amazing presence, power, and vitality.

Ginsburg’s sympathetic black-and-white drawings of Jeremy and the people he encounters are absolutely beautiful: humane, alive, and touching. A

Mississippi Bridge
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