When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle.
So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter's promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?
Awards and Praise for The Parker Inheritance:
A Coretta Scott King Author Honor winner A Boston Globe / Horn Book Honor winner Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year Bookpage Best Books of the Year Horn Book Fanfare Best Books of the Year NPR Best Books of the Year New York Public Library Top Ten Books of the Year Chicago Public Library Best Books of the Year School Library Journal Best Books of the Year Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year Boston Globe Best Books of the Year Parents Magazine Best Books of the Year
"Powerful.... Johnson writes about the long shadows of the past with such ambition that any reader with a taste for mystery will appreciate the puzzle Candice and Brandon must solve.... Their adventure is also a quest for dignity and justice and a journey to understand each other. In a novel marked by scenes of pain and rage, their friendship, genuine and sustaining, is a great achievement." -- The New York Times Book Review
* "Johnson's latest novel holds racism firmly in the light. Candice and Brandon discover the joys and terrors of the reality of being African-American in the 1950s. Without sugarcoating facts or dousing it in post-racial varnish, the narrative lets the children absorb and reflect on their shared history. The town of Lambert brims with intrigue, keeping readers entranced until the very last page. A candid and powerful reckoning of history." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Johnson's Westing Game-inspired tale is a tangled historical mystery, a satisfying multigenerational family story, and an exploration of twentieth-century (and contemporary) race and racism.... His protagonist is intelligent, endearing, and believable; scenes with her father, especially, have both humor and poignancy. Well-placed textual clues keep historical context and race relations at the front of readers' minds-and examining those constructs, ingeniously, provides the key to solving the mystery." -- The Horn Book, starred review
* "Part historical fiction, part critical problem-solving exercise, part suspenseful mystery, this story weaves through the past and present of one town's struggle with hatred and racism.... The characters are varied, authentic, and well developed. The plot moves along quickly and seamlessly between the past and present, with chapters from the 1950s shaded in light gray for a smart visual effect. The present day isn't sugarcoated, showing readers that racial equity is still an unresolved problem. Appended author notes offer additional context, making it an excellent link to social studies or history units. A must-purchase." -- School Library Journal, starred review
* "Johnson takes his readers on a whirlwind expedition with two exceptionally bright kids as they connect the dots of this mystery and gain insights into their own families' secrets. The author flashes back to earlier eras to fill out the backstory of the town and the treasure, creating a vivid portrait of the cultural and demographic changes in a South Carolina town, and he creates a narrative that's both a compelling mystery and a powerful commentary on identity, passing, and sacrifice. Fans of The Westing Game, which gets several textual shoutouts, and other puzzling mysteries such as Balliett's Chasing Vermeer will appreciate the twists and turns of this meaningful tale." -- The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, starred review