Down Sand Mountain by Steve Watkins

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It's 1966 and Dewey Turner is determined to start the school year right. No more being the brunt of every joke. No more "Deweyitis." But after he stains his face with shoe polish trying to mimic the popular Shoeshine Boy at the minstrel show, he begins seventh grade on an even lower rung, earning the nickname Sambo and being barred from the "whites only" bathroom. The only person willing to talk to him, besides his older brother, Wayne, is fellow outsider Darla Turkel, who wears her hair like Shirley Temple and sings and dances like her, too. Through their friendship, Dewey gains awareness of issues bigger than himself and bigger than his small town of Sand Mountain: issues like race and segregation, the reality of the Vietnam War, abuse, sexuality, and even death and grieving. Written in a riveting, authentic voice, at times light-hearted and humorous and at others devastating and lonely, this deeply affecting story will stay with readers long after the book is closed.

About Steve Watkins

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Steve Watkins, an associate professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, is a short-story writer and winner of a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Published March 22, 2011 by Candlewick. 327 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Adults appear as both positive and negative role models, but it’s Walter Wratchford, a listless Vietnam veteran, whose disillusioned comments open Dewey’s mind to the racial hatred simmering beneath the seemingly innocent Sand Mountain atmosphere.

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Teen Reads

And then Dewey comes face to face with a huge decision when a prank goes completely out of control.

Oct 14 2008 | Read Full Review of Down Sand Mountain

Historical Novel Society

It’s the 1960s and Dewey Turner is twelve years old, growing up in a small town called Sand Mountain in Florida.

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