FOR LAMB, by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Holiday House, Jan. 10, 2023, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult, ages 14 and up)
Lesa Cline-Ransome’s new young adult novel, For Lamb, explores an interracial friendship between two girls in the Jim Crow South.
For Lamb follows a family striving to better their lives in the late 1930s Jackson, Mississippi. Lamb’s mother is a hard-working, creative seamstress. Lamb’s brother has a brilliant mind and has even earned a college scholarship for a black college up north — if only he could curb his impulsiveness and rebellious nature.
Lamb herself is a quiet and studious girl. She is also naive. As she tentatively accepts the friendly overtures of a white girl who loans her a book she loves, she sets off a calamitous series of events that pulls in her mother, charming hustler uncle, estranged father, and brother, and ends in a lynching. —Synopsis provided by Holiday House
For Lamb is not an easy read, but it’s an excellent one.
Told from multiple points of view, readers are immediately thrown into the 1930s South. As such, readers should go into this with the understanding that the subject matter is brutal. That said, however, the story unfolds without the graphic visuals you might expect. Instead, author Lesa Cline-Ransom utilizes nuance, giving readers enough information to draw conclusions within her framework.
For Lamb is not a fast-moving read, particularly at the beginning. However, I don’t think the novel would have as much of an impact if readers weren’t allowed to sit with the characters and the scenes at the beginning. Cline-Ransom’s prose offers those much-needed moments of reflection, and her use of multiple viewpoints helps build a more harried energy toward the end.
For Lamb is a challenging, yet hopeful, read that sits with you long after completion.
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