Seeing Red

Written by Kathryn Erskine
Review by Wisteria Leigh

Twelve-year-old Red Porter lives in Stony Gap, Virginia, in 1972, where he works with his father in the family automotive shop. When his father dies, Red can’t fathom his life without the man he idolized. He knows life will change, but he refuses to accept his mother’s decision to sell their multi-generational home, and begins to brainstorm solutions.

The motto of his father’s shop is “Porter’s: We Fix It Right!” Red knows he must fix his situation too, but he garners help from all the wrong people, and assistance comes at a high price. Red becomes a witness to racial hatred and heinous incidents that target his lifelong friend. Even so, Red is determined to sabotage the sale of his mother’s home – even if it means uncovering an ugly family secret.

Erskine reaches back into her own childhood to frame this novel of friendship, race relations, and family secrets. Her own experiences with segregation in the American South as well as South Africa lend richness to the story. Red learns the truth that, as segregation continues, it is up to him as it is up to all of us to “Fix It Right.” Though Red often exhibits the epitome of recalcitrant adolescent behavior, he is so genuine that his stubbornness can be forgiven. Rich with lessons and inspiration, Seeing Red promises to be a classroom favorite as a window to the segregation that endured into the 1970s.