Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial
Billed as a cross between To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind, this novel aims high and does not disappoint. Frances Robinson is fifteen years old the summer of the Scopes trial. Her father, Frank Robinson, is the chairman of the school board and one of the architects of the publicity stunt meant to put Dayton, Tennessee, back on the map. A thoughtful, intelligent girl, Frances has always loved and respected her father. But recently she has developed a friendship (he won’t see it as more) with her teacher Johnny Scopes. This summer she will be forced to question her faith and all that she loves as her town is overwhelmed by the media frenzy surrounding the trial. Yet Frances faces the events with an understated dignity and blossoming maturity that puts the adults around her to shame. Kidd handles all of Frances’s inner turmoil: her more-than-just-a-crush relationship with the older teacher, her increasingly tumultuous relationship with her father, and a rift with her best friend with as much skill and insight as he does the larger questions of faith versus science. Anyone looking for a well-written, emotionally absorbing, relevant novel for a child 11 years or older? Or for themselves?