Miss Ophelia by Mary Burnett Smith

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Synopsis

Part coming-of-age story and part slice of life, this is a literary novel about African-Americans in the rural South.

Set in rural Virginia during 1948, Miss Ophelia is a remarkable debut novel that explores the issues of abortion, illegitimacy, adultery, and skin color. Belly Anderson now in the autumn of her life, reminisces about the last summer of her childhood. A strong-willed and free-spirited eleven-year-old, she reluctantly leaves her home in rural Pharaoh and goes to Jamison to help her mean Aunt Rachel recover from surgery. Belly has two reasons for deciding to go to Jamison: She's left alone when her only friend becomes pregnant and is sent away, and she hopes that she'll be allowed to take piano lessons from her mother's childhood friend. While taking lessons from Miss Ophelia, she learns a terrible secret about her beloved teacher--a secret that forces Belly to grow up and learn what it really means to be an adult.

 

About Mary Burnett Smith

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Mary Burnett Smith has a master's degree in education from Temple University. Before her retirement in 1992, she taught inner-city junior and senior high school students in Philadelphia. She now lives outside the city with her husband. Mary Burnett Smith has a master's degree in education from Temple University. Before her retirement in 1992, she taught inner-city junior and senior high school students in Philadelphia. She now lives outside the city with her husband.
 
Published August 20, 1997 by William Morrow. 288 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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The three weeks Aunt Rachel is in the hospital are paradisiacal, as Miss Ophelia's music, lemonade, and the scent of summer flowers serve to bring together in companionship young and old alike, offering them a fragile shelter from the unpleasant facts of their existence: Avery (his odd marriage);

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With an intelligent child's intuition, Belly reports the nuances she senses, but can't fully understand, in a voice that evokes not only her own bewilderment but also the fabric of life--often intensely pleasurable--during a slow Southern summer: preening at church, gossiping, drinking lemonade a...

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