Tess Goodwin’s life in rural Iowa is sheltered and uncomplicated. Although she chooses to spend most of her free time playing chess with her best friend Zander, the farm-boy from next door, her skills as a bovine midwife and tractor mechanic ensure that she fits in with the other kids at East Chester High. But when her veteran father reenlists in the Army, moving her family halfway across the country to North Carolina, Tess is forced out of her comfort zone into a world she knows nothing about.
Tess approaches the move as she would a new game of chess, plotting her course through the unfamiliar reality of her new life. While heeding Zander’s long-distance advice for making new friends and strategizing a means to endure her dad’s imminent deployment to the Middle East, she quickly discovers how ill-equipped she is to navigate the challenges she encounters and becomes convinced she’ll never fit in at her new school.
When Leonetta Jackson is assigned as her mentor, she becomes Tess’s unexpected guide through the winding labyrinth of disparities between them, sparking a tentative friendship and challenging Tess to confront her re, luctant nature. As the pieces move across the board of her upended life, will Tess find the acceptance she so desperately desires?
A white farm girl moves to a town where she is faced with the racial intricacies. That pretty much sums it up.
This story could’ve been impactful but it misses its mark. Nothing happens for a long time and then it seems like everything is happening at once. I liked Tess’s friendship with Leonetta and Alice but it was still missing something. Maybe because I was expecting a lot more from Tess coming to terms with her own racial bias. When she does have discussions about these discoveries she makes about her surroundings and even her own self, it comes off a little too forced and a bit preachy. Does that make sense?
What disappoints me the most was that at the beginning for a long time, I was looking for a concrete plot. And when some sort of plot with the friends is about to take shape, the author takes the story in an entirely different direction never to turn back. Totally ruined the flow for me!
I loved how Tess comes into her own as a character. She loves chess, has excellent farming skills and is really fond of her cow Sunshine. I also think that the author did well with her descriptions of the two entirely different worlds of farming and military. The characters also had a lot of potential. I admire the efforts of the author in attempting to take on such a complex and significant issue. It was the plot that failed her.
I’m just happy that this book has got me in the mood for more books with themes that explore racial intricacies. Maybe this is the kick I needed to pick up The Hate U give? Any other recommendations, everyone?
By the way, how lovely is that cover? I absolutely adore it!
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Publication Date: 19th March, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)