"The summer I turned thirteen, I thought I killed a man."
So begins the story of Jessilyn Lassiter, a young girl whose world is torn apart the summer of 1932. When Jessilyn's best friend, Gemma, loses her parents in a tragic fire, Jessilyn's father vows to care for her as his own, despite the fact that Gemma is black and prejudice is prevalent in their southern Virginia town.
It doesn't take long for the Lassiters to attract the attention of a local band of Ku Klux Klan members, who make increasingly violent threats on Jessilyn and her family.
As she struggles to navigate a complex world of first crushes, loyalties, and betrayals, Jessilyn ultimately discovers what it takes to be a bright light in a dark world.
When her best friend Gemma's parents are killed in a house fire, Jessilyn Lassiter's parents take the girl in. Trouble is, the year is 1932, Gemma is black, the Lassiters are white, and they live in a small Virginia town. Spunky Jessilyn is 13 years old, but her story will appeal to readers of all ages. Winner of the Christian Writers Guild's 2007 Operation First Novel contest, Valent's debut is both heartwarming and hand-wringing as it shows how one family endured the threats small and large of a prejudiced community while maintaining moral integrity. The cast of characters is rich. Jessilyn's mother wrestles with the social cost of challenging convention, her father is a dream dad and the neighbor's wisdom is as spicy as her cake. Jessilyn's romantic interest and penchant for trouble keep the tone light while the plot reminds readers of the evil that ordinary human beings are capable of doing, even in the name of righteousness. The book stares down violence and terror, making its affirmation of surprising goodness believable. (Jan.)Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.