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Zora! The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin

Published by Clarion / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
180 pages
ISBN: 978-0-547-00695-6

Age 11 and older

A noted collector of tall tales, Zora Neale Hurston also knew how to tell one about her own life, whether it was to skim years off her age or offer an explanation for why she, a highly regarded author, was working as a maid in Miami in 1950. In this intriguing account, Zora’s own tall tales about her life become part of the telling, and part of the way readers gain an understanding of this intelligent, ambitious, creative woman who lived in a world that threw one challenge after another her way, because she was a woman, and because she was Black (having a larger-than-life personality could be a challenge, too, though it powered her through difficult times). Zora’s journey took her from the all-Black community of Eaton, Florida, where she spent her childhood, to college in her twenties, and, eventually, to Harlem, where she collaborated with Langston Hughes during the Harlem Renaissance until a feud did in their friendship. Her determination and talent helped her face everything from a turbulent childhood after the death of her mother to repeated delays in pursuing her dreams, and they continued to drive her even as she fell into obscurity in the 1940s and 1950s. A final chapter chronicles the rise of Zora’s legacy. Two of the folktales Zora collected (work that came naturally to her once she dropped her academic persona and was welcomed among southern Blacks as one of them), along with lists of sources, round out this insightful, engaging volume. (MS) ©2012 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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