Based on the real life of Anita Hemmings, The Gilded Years is a fictionalized account of the first African-American woman to graduate from the prestigious Vassar College in 1897 (Vassar did not openly admit African-American students until the 1940s). Anita was able to do this because she was light skinned enough to pass as white and she kept this secret for three years. But during her senior year she fell in love with a Harvard student and her roommate became attracted to Anita’s equally fair skinned brother, both situations which would jeopardize everything she had accomplished so far.
She had the typical student experience, studying, socializing, and visiting friends but with the constant undercurrent that she was playing a part and keeping a secret that if discovered could get her expelled. She had to decide who she was, who she wanted to be and what was most important to her, which had no easy answers.
There is also a section that tells about the life of the real Anita Hemmings (with photo), her life before and at Vassar and what happened to her after leaving college.
I’ve read some articles from 2017 and 2018 reporting that this book will be made into a film called ‘A White Lie’ starring Zendaya and Reese Witherspoon but have not found more recent information about it.
As a fan of both school stories (whether day schools, boarding schools or college/ university) and historical fiction this book is a great mix of both!
As someone who reads any book about cats that she comes across, whether fiction or non-fiction, for children or for adults, there are some that are extra special and Princess Puffybottom – And Darryl by Susin Nielsen is one of them. The story is about a cat who is Princess of her domain but is dismayed by the addition of a puppy to her kingdom. The puppy is messy and uncouth but worst of all he takes attention away from the Princess. Princess Puffybottom knows that this intruder needs to be banished somewhere far faraway. She tries everything to do that including hypnosis, trickery and sabotage but nothing works – it looks like Darryl is there to stay. Princess Puffybottom is sad but no one even notices – except Darryl. Slowly the Princess learns that Darryl has some redeeming features. He worships her, puts her on a pedestal (literally!) and even helps her get extra food. Princess Puffybottom comes to understand that there is room for both a Princess and a companion in her kingdom and life is good again. But what is that, that her human subjects are bringing home on the last page?
After reading and enjoying Karen McManus’s first book One Of Us Is Lying I was looking forward to reading her second Two Can Keep A Secret and I wasn’t disappointed. I read it straight through in two days because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. Like her first book this one contains a murder mystery, this time in a town full of secrets. Ellery and her twin brother Ezra move to the small town of Echo Ridge to live with a grandmother they hardly know after their mother goes to rehab. A town where their aunt disappeared many years ago at the age of seventeen and where a former homecoming queen was murdered five years ago.