Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T. R. Simon

I have been on a real kid-lit kick lately and it hasn’t been intentional. Middle grade novels have gotten so good that it’s easy to forget that you’re reading a kid’s book. Honestly, if you find yourself in a reading slump wander over to the middle grade department at your Library. No one will think you’re weird.


Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground is second book in an amazing series about author Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood. Told through the eyes of Carrie Brown, a young girl who is best friend to Zora Neale Hurston and who stays with Zora's family after her father dies and her mother has to go away to work for a short time. One night, the girls are woken up by the sound of horses outside their window. When the girls sneak out to discover why the horses would have run away from their home and owner, they discover that their neighbor Mr. Polk has been gravely injured. This is just the beginning of the girls' dangerous adventure to discover why someone would hurt Mr. Polk and how dangerous their world truly is.

Alternating between two time periods and two narratives, we learn the tragic history of America's first all black township. T.R. Simon provides an unflinching view of post-Civil War Florida and how deeply the effects of slavery shape individuals.

Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground is an incredible story of hope, community, and strength,.

I’ve ordered both of the books for my own children’s department and I’m excited to share with these with young readers. The books do cover some tough topics-slavery, abuse, and violence so be prepared to answer some heavy questions.

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Thank you to Candlewick and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Michelle Dunbar