Speak to Me

Fiction - Drama
264 Pages
Reviewed on 06/28/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite

In Ben Raterman's Speak to Me, eight-year-old Justine dreamt of leaving the trailer park where she lived with her mother, Rachel, or Rachelle, and her six-year-old brother, Joseph. Justine and Joseph hoped to find and sell their ancestor Jannie Thomas's jewelry to buy a house. Jannie was Anna Fitzhugh's maid in the early 1900s. What if Anna gave Jannie a piece of jewelry from her collection as a gift? At least, that was what Nonna Etta told her grandchildren, Justine and Joseph. According to a dark rumor, Anna was robbed and killed. Yet Justine believed the jewelry was still somewhere in Anna's old house. The children befriended Katy Aldridge, a librarian passionate about history and the stories of those who lived long ago. Katy's research led to mystifying occurrences. Justine, Joseph, and two neighbor boys, Shahin and Hauk, made a scary discovery.

Speak to Me by Ben Raterman is an engrossing read for mature fans of mystery, literary and Southern fiction, adventure, and social issues novels. The author paints a believable picture of social injustice in a small town in Virginia and realistically portrays hardworking African Americans who refuse to give up hope. They face the challenges the racist part of society throws their way with integrity and courage, like an old gardener named Douglas Freeman, who loves nature tremendously and has a strong work ethic. Justine is only eight, yet she seems older. This wise, brilliant child can see through people. Justine recognizes a wounded soul in a bully and bravely opens up to an unexpected friendship. The narrative, with an intriguing touch of magical realism, is well-paced. Raterman has a unique approach toward storytelling, and an attentive reader will appreciate this thrilling search for a true treasure.