Friday, June 28, 2013

Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine

Cover Art for Dave at night Gail Carson Levine is best known for her princess tales.  Her first was Ella Enchanted, but she has written a dozen more, all of which I enjoyed.  But one of my favorite of her books is not a princess tale.  It isn't even an fantasy.  David at Night is a historical fiction about a Jewish boy who is orphaned at age 11 during the depression.  His step mother and relatives are unable to take him so he is sent to the Hebrew Home for Boys in Harlem.  He isn't at the home long before he learns how to sneak out and explore the streets at night.  He happens upon a kindly older Jewish gentleman who introduces Dave to the wonders of Jazz, and the Harlem Renaissance.  I think that Ms Levine does a wonderful job capturing David's voice.  He is spunky, but a believable 11.  I also like the fact that the African American people in the story are the rich and influential ones and that his relationship with a black girl is completely untainted by racism.  It is easy to get tired of reading about oppressed peoples. The book was inspired by the experience of Ms. Levine's own father who was put in an orphanage as a child, and was unwilling to talk about it throughout the rest of his life. After his death, Ms Levine researched the orphanage where her father had lived, and also the time period and culture of the area. I first read Dave at Night years ago when it was first published about 10 years ago, but I was happy to go revisit it again.  It was interesting to compare it to The Little Rock Lions, and also The Help which I am still reading (281 p)

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