Killing Miss Kitty and Other Sins
Five short stories about Claire, an adolescent in a northern Illinois mill town in the 1950s, make up this book. With brief, powerful strokes, Bauer outlines pivotal moments in Claire’s life. She befriends the town’s only black girl and has her eyes opened to northern segregation. In navigating a new school where her only friend is a fellow misfit, she has a brief flirtation with being “saved.” In the title story, her mother proves to be much less sentimental about pets than she is. She learns that confirmation into the church does not absolve sin. And finally, at fifteen, she experiences her first crush… on a female teacher.
Bauer writes in a completely authentic adolescent girl’s voice and notes in the afterword that the stories are drawn from her own experiences. The first story, the befriending of Dorinda, is especially poignant as Claire not only faces the town’s bigotry but her own unwitting racism. The book touches on very serious subjects, subjects that are not inappropriate for young readers but will make them think. And, adults will find themselves riveted—I was! Ages 11 and up.