In August, 1954, thirteen-year-old June travels with her mother, sisters, and Mary, their black maid, from their home in Charlotte, N.C., to Florida and back through Georgia. Mayhew explores the complex relationships between white children and black maids. June gets more genuine love and affection from Mary than from her parents, but the relationship always is a bit guarded. Despite their closeness, June and Mary are restricted by societal roles and expectations. Mary knows "her place," and changes her manner for survival in various circumstances. Mary's deference to white people initially is confusing to June, but during the trip June sees more of how the larger world treats black people. A tragedy forces June to face the terrible truths about her family and her way of life. Signs of coming change are everywhere once June begins to look. At one point, June and her older sister Stella argue about Mary. June says, "But she was our friend," and Stella replies, "We paid her to be."
Although this book is not written specifically for a YA audience, teens and adults will appreciate June's, and Mary's, journey--Lucinda Whitehurst