Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. It’s a time for families to get together and reconnect. For many Black families, that might mean a trip down South to see aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents.
Visiting family in the South is the premise of the book Nothing Special, by Desiree Cooper. Even though the book is fiction, the main character has the same name as her grandson Jax.
In the book, Jax leaves Detroit to spend time with his grandparents in Virginia. He is looking forward to doing some of the same things he does back home: going to the zoo and getting a burger and toy at the drive-thru. But, his grandparents have different plans.
Instead of going to the zoo or movies, Jax’s grandfather takes him fishing for crabs, and they go stargazing. Jax learns to open his horizons to different adventures and connects with his grandparents more.
Many Black people have roots in the South because their relatives were among the six million who moved up north between 1910 to 1970 to escape the oppression of Jim Crow laws and pursue more opportunities. It remains a tradition for Black families to visit the South during the summertime and holidays.
My mother used to go from Chicago to Mississippi to spend time with her relatives in the summer. She said it was always hot. She mostly remembers snapping peas with her grandmother, playing with cousins and fighting off mosquitoes. I have also gone down South for family reunions.
I liked this book a lot! (I was happy to get an advance reader copy.) It was cool to see Jax’s grandparents show him the simplistic side of life – they didn’t have to buy him things or go to elaborate places. It was the little things that made their time together enjoyable and created generational bonding. The illustrations by Bec Sloan were gorgeous. She used recycled materials like tote bags and socks to create every element of Jax’s world.
This book reminded me of As Brave As You, which I reviewed a few years back.
This book is perfect for parents, teachers, and children!
Four out of four roses!