Here's the reasons that the book is challenged/banned: racism, homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group.(All the classics).
So we are transported to Stamps, Arkansas where Margueritte (our narrator) lives with her Momma (her grandma), her Uncle Willie, and her brother Bailey Jr. Her parents are separated and live in St Louis and California. They see or hear from them very rarely. Momma runs a general store in the "black side" of town and the kids help her. She runs a tight ship; church is attended, you are kept clean, you do your homework, you don't sass! Both kids are very smart, reading all of the time and doing very well in school. All of this is not to say that life is ideal. There are lynchings, rampant out of control racism aggressive, and snide, holier than thou racism. There is one night where they have to hide Uncle Willie under the floor under a pile of potatoes and onions because there's a group of angry white men out looking for a black man to assault.
They're life changes when they move to St Louis to live with their beautiful and glamorous mother who works as a nurse (along with other things on the side.) But something awful happens and they end up back in Stamps for a short time, before moving to San Fransisco, where there mom has moved. The rest of the book chronicles her and Bailey's adjustments to living in California and the different struggles they face as they get older...
Ready for my Banned Books rant? Here it is.
You know what makes me angry? That it's considered "unsuited for age group". Well, I don't know about you, but any age group that can understand how horrifying it is as a little girl fights to grasp sexual assault visited on her and the feelings that haunt her in the aftermath should read this book and be horrified. Of course it's unsuited for an age group, it's unsuited for everyone because it's horrible and violent and retch worthy. (That probably isn't clear, but I get angry and sad and horrified when there's a little girl who doesn't know that a forced sexual encounter is about to happen and we as readers do.)What I mean to say is sexual assault of a child will be disturbing to a reader at any age.
I was pleasantly surprised by my first walk down Maya Angelou's work (which you might not gather from the above rant, but that's just one component of the overall work). The characters were interesting and complicated. My favorite part of the book was when their one church sister is overwhelmed by spiritual fervor and basically attacks the preacher.(It sounds weird but it was really funny.) 3 out of 5 stars!