30 December 2017
Back to Monroeville for Christmas
Tru and Nelle: A Christmas Tale, G. Neri
Nelle Lee and her friend "Big Boy" Carter eagerly await their friend Truman Persons on a sweltering December day in Monroeville, Alabama. They haven't seen Tru for two years; he's been living with his self-absorbed mother and new stepfather. They expect Tru will jump at the chance to live back in Monroeville with his beloved cousin Sook and her family, but instead at a custody hearing between his mother and his father, Tru baffles them both by choosing to go with his mother and be adopted by his stepfather.
Two years later it is Truman who is running back to Monroeville, having been stuck in a military school by his mother. He's convinced he's cursed, but when he find the most beautiful Christmas tree ever, he thinks bringing it back to Sook and her family is the one way to break the curse. Instead it it's only the start of an incredible series of adventures.
Neri's text, as in Tru and Nelle, mixes real-life events (the trial Amasa Lee participated in that inspired To Kill a Mockingbird, the incident with a bully that prompted the short story "The Thanksgiving Visitor," plus touches of "A Christmas Memory" with Sook and the fruitcakes, Truman Capote's experience with his mother and stepfather, a fire that destroyed the home of Sook, Jenny, and Truman's other cousins) with fictionalized involvement of Nelle with a murder trial and events around a rare snowy Christmas. The interactions between the kids is great, and Neri does not softpedal the terms of the time nor the racism, but it also seems like an "everything but the kitchen sink" drama, with the murder of the river merchant and the events with the tree and Truman's feeling of being cursed and the events with the fire all jockeying for attention. I think I liked the parts best which dealt with Truman's conflicted feeling for his parents and Nelle's and Big Boy's attempts to help him.
As a whole, glad I read it!