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Joan Reviews… The Parker Inheritance

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

Published: 2019

Age Range: 10+

Genre: Mystery / Historical Fiction

Awards: Coretta Scott King Award, Odyssey Book Award

Joan read The Parker Inheritance and this is what she thought…

12-year-old Candice and her mother are spending the summer in her grandmother’s old house in Lambert, South Carolina. Her grandmother was fired as city manager for having the city tennis courts dug up looking for buried treasure. Now that she has passed away, Candice finds the letter that sent her on the treasure hunt, and she finds herself caught up in the mystery from the 1950s. This story takes place between present day, and flashbacks to the original events of the mystery.

This book has everything – mystery, history, romance, families and friendship! It also deals with stereotypes of race and sexual orientation. The entire storyline was realistic, and empathetic, and I love watching a mystery unfold with a really good back story. Even though this is a fun and fast paced story, the overwhelming emotion I felt was sadness at the continued prejudice towards anyone “different” – both historically and even in the present day. The scenes in present day were printed on white paper, and the scenes in the past were printed on gray. Since I’m a visual person I really liked this difference – it immediately put you in the correct time period before you even read a word. I also really enjoyed the math and puzzle elements the characters had to solve. The only thing I didn’t love about this book was the idea of the “treasure” being what drove the kids to solve the mystery. In the end, I think they were more driven by the idea of righting a historical wrong, but they definitely started out the search to find the money.

The book’s main theme is a mystery surrounding injustices from the past. Candice and Brandon end up solving the mystery with logic and perseverance – even though they came to a lot of dead ends and wrong conclusions they just kept trying new ideas. In the end they brought some serious racial wrongs from the past to light, as well as proving that Candice’s grandmother had been right to investigate these issues.

Who would you recommend this book to?

Anyone from sixth grade up (even adults) who likes a good mystery, should enjoy this story. The Parker Inheritance is an especially good choice for fans of civil rights history. The journey of this book is terrific, between watching the mystery unfold and watching Candice and Brandon grow more confident in themselves. I also really liked the insight into the Deep South of the late 1950s.

Place a hold on the print copy here or the digital copy here!

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