In 1954, everything changed for the Watts family. June, also known as Jubie, is thirteen years old and the second child of four. Jubie narrates the story of this period when her family went from being picture perfect – complete with a nice house in Charlotte, North Carolina, a booming business, and a hard-working and motherly maid – to broken and disgraced. Although she faces physical abuse from her father, feels disappointed about his criminal activities at work, and is disillusioned about her parents’ marriage, Jubie’s true awakening occurs on a family vacation. As they travel throughout the South, she becomes more aware of segregation and prejudiced attitudes towards African Americans. Because she is especially close to her maid, Mary, Jubie begins to feel conflicted about racial tensions and what she has always known as ‘normal’. While the family is in Georgia, Jubie, her older sister, and Mary are attacked walking home from a tent revival. Mary, offering herself to protect the sisters, is assaulted and murdered. As Jubie tries to come to terms with Mary’s violent death and the many ways in which her family is changing, she realizes the power of her own convictions.
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