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Alligator Bayou

Alligator Bayou

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Professor of Linguistics Donna Jo Napoli

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  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 136mm x 204mm x 18mm | 240g
  • Publication date: 15 June 2010
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0553494171
  • ISBN 13: 9780553494174
  • Edition: 1
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 535,956

Product description

An unforgettable novel, based on a true story, about racism against Italian Americans in the South in 1899. Fourteen-year-old Calogero, his uncles, and his cousins are six Sicilians living in the small town of Tallulah, Louisiana, miles from any of their countrymen. They grow vegetables and sell them at their stand and in their grocery store. Some people welcome the immigrants; most do not. Calogero's family is caught in the middle of tensions between the black and white communities. As Calogero struggles to adapt to Tallulah, he is startled and thrilled by the danger of midnight gator hunts in the bayou and by his powerful feelings for Patricia, a sharp-witted, sweet-natured black girl. Meanwhile, every day, and every misunderstanding between the white community and the Sicilians, bring Calogero and his family closer to a terrifying, violent confrontation. In this affecting and unforgettable novel, Donna Jo Napoli's inspired research and spare, beautiful language take the classic immigrant story to new levels of emotion and searing truth. Alligator Bayou tells a story that all Americans should know.

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Author information

Donna Jo Napoli is the author of many distinguished books for young readers, among them "The Great God Pan, Daughter of Venice, Crazy Jack, The Magic Circle, Zel, Sirena, Breath, Bound, Stones in Water, Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale, "and, most recently for Wendy Lamb Books, "The King of Mulberry Street." She has a BA in mathematics and a PhD in Romance linguistics from Harvard University and has taught widely at major universities in America and abroad. She has five children and one grandson and lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where she is a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College. You can visit her on the Web at www.donnajonapoli.com.

Customer reviews

By TeensReadToo 18 Sep 2010 5

It is the year 1899. Calogero, a 14-year-old Sicilian immigrant, lives in Tallulah, Louisiana, with his uncles and cousins.

They have all come to America seeking a better life. They do well for themselves, selling fruits and vegetables from a corner grocery store. They do not seek out trouble, but it always has a way of finding them.

Calo and his family do not discriminate between blacks and whites. They sell to anyone who will buy their produce. Members of the town find this behavior reprehensible and disgusting. It is only a matter of time before the white citizens of Tallulah turn their backs on Calo and his family, and destroy every possible hope they had of leading quiet, normal lives.

Donna Jo Napoli has done extensive research for this novel. The afterword explains that Napoli came across an article about five Sicilian grocers in Tallulah, Louisiana, who were lynched because they served a black customer before a white one. The article moved Napoli, and she felt a story must be told about these men. Napoli based her characters on those people who testified or were talked about in the testaments taken after the Tallulah lynching.

The time and effort Napoli has put into her research makes the story more genuine, more affecting. It is a tragic story that ends with a glimmer of hope.

Read this novel - it is a horrific reminder of what can happen when prejudice prevails and mob mentality rules over all.