Title: The Everlasting Now
Author: Sara Harrell Banks
Concepts: Great Depression, unemployment, scarcity, homelessness, strikes, racial inequality, discrimination
Review: As James Longstreet Sayre, nicknamed Brother, started to approach his teenage years, he became more aware of the realities around him. The Great Depression seemed to permeate so many aspects of life in his small Alabama town, from the homeless men who stopped by his mother's boarding house for a free meal, to the daily bartering he undertook to help get what they needed. So many businesses had closed, including the newspaper that his father ran before his untimely death during a worker strike that turned violent.
Although Brother had slowly come to accept these changes, he was less cognizant of another feature of life in his southern town during the 1930s: segregation and discrimination by race. His ignorance dissipated, however, when he became friends with an African American boy who had come to live with his aunt, who worked as the cook in their boarding house. Brother quickly learned about the rules that governed who could be served in local establishments, the dangerous white men they needed to avoid, and who they could trust when the situation got out of hand.
This richly-spun novel provides readers with a vivid description of some of the ways in which economic hardship and racial discrimination worked to shape the lives of people living in the south during the Great Depression. Although the themes are heavy, the first-person account from a young boy adds an element of innocence and fun that will keep the story accessible to young readers.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children