Carrie’s best friend Zora Neale Hurston is a story-teller of the highest merit. Sometimes Carrie can’t tell when Zora is telling the truth or making up a story – and she’s not entirely sure Zora knows the difference either. When Zora becomes convinced that a local man is able to change into an alligator, the girls are alternately thrilled and terrified. But as they begin to investigate this seemingly paranormal presence, Zora and Carrie stumble upon a larger mystery involving a murdered drifter, a mysterious woman in the next town over, and the unfortunate realities of growing up black in turn-of-the-century Florida.
There were many things to like about this book, including the strongly portrayed relationships between Zora and Carrie and their community. The reader gets a strong sense of where each person fits within the larger context of the town. I can remember making up stories that ended up scaring myself as a child, so those sections of the book rang particularly true for me as well.
Some aspects of the larger Gold and Ivory plot did not sit as well with me (mostly the treatment of Gold’s behavior completely in isolation of the larger sociological context), but do not stop me from recommending the book to fans of historical fiction.