Author Strong doesn't shy away from racial violence in this MG story, and she slams it out of the park. It's a chilling ghost story wrapped in an endearing tale of family and friendship. For kids who may not like reading non-fiction, this could be a good bridge towards discussions of White violence against Black bodies. Also all of the characters are just so adorable!
“A stirring Southern middle grade book that burns brighter than fireworks on the Fourth.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “A must for readers who appreciate a heartfelt mystery.” —Booklist (starred review) “An intricate mix of Southern mystery, history, and a ghost story that creeps but doesn’t scare.” —School Library Journal (starred review)
Cousins Sarah and Janie unearth a tragic event in their small Southern town’s history in this witty middle grade novel that’s perfect for fans of Stella by Starlight, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, and As Brave as You.
Twelve-year-old Sarah is finally in charge. At last, she can spend her summer months reading her favorite science books and bossing around her younger brother, Ellis, instead of being worked to the bone by their overly strict grandmother, Mrs. Greene. But when their cousin, Janie arrives for a visit, Sarah’s plans are completely squashed.
Janie has a knack for getting into trouble and asks Sarah to take her to Creek Church: a landmark of their small town that she heard was haunted. It’s also off-limits. Janie’s sticky fingers lead Sarah, Ellis, and his best friend, Jasper, to uncover a deep-seated part of the town’s past. With a bit of luck, this foursome will heal the place they call home and the people within it they call family.
About the Author
Karen Strong was born and raised in rural Georgia. She spent most of her childhood wandering the woods, meadows, and gardens of her grandmother’s land. She now lives in Atlanta. Just South of Home is her first novel. Learn more at Karen-Strong.com.
* "Strong's prose pours from her pen like iced sweet tea on an August afternoon—it's refreshing, steeped in tradition, and mixed with love. A stirring Southern middle-grade book that burns brighter than fireworks on the Fourth." — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
* “Strong’s prose presents a world so real readers will feel the warm Georgia breeze, or the haints’ chilling breath down your neck….Readers will need a sweet tea to calm their nerves after this emotional adventure. First purchase for all collections.” — School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
* "Strong packs a lot of heart into this vivid debut about love, family, forgiveness, and the kinds of horrors few can scarcely conceive....Free-flowing dialogue, a rich story line, and warm characters nicely ground the more supernatural elements. This is a must for readers who appreciate a heartfelt mystery." — Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
"Readers of Turnage’s Three Times Lucky will appreciate this well-wrought, atmospheric mystery." — BCCB