Toning the Sweep
Toning the Sweep
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Annotation: Emmie's video cam reveals her family's history and preserves her dying grandmother's memories.
Catalog Number: #4717284
Format: Paperback
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition Date: 1994
Pages: 103 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-590-48142-8
ISBN 13: 978-0-590-48142-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 92034062
Dimensions: 18 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Emily is fourteen when she learns that her beloved grandmother Ola is dying of cancer. As three generations come together to close up Ola's house--she is moving to be with Emmie's family--past events blend with present moments in a compelling collage of memories, and old wounds are revealed and healed. Johnson's remarkable narrative uses different perspectives, but what is most memorable is the skill with which she moves between times past and times present without sacrificing her main story line or diluting the emotional impact.
Kirkus Reviews
Johnson's spare, beautifully written first novel—a thematic extension of Tell Me a Story, Mama (1989)—portrays a crucial turning point for African-American women from three generations. Grandmother Ola has cancer; Emily and her mama go to the California desert to pack up her belongings and take her back to Cleveland so she can die in peace near her family. Ola and Emily have a special bond: for different reasons, both are mildly estranged from Mama; both love the arid land Ola has made her home since fleeing Alabama after her husband's tragic death in 1964. Latching onto a video camera, Emily starts recording the reminiscences of Ola's friends as a gift for her. In the process, she discovers the source of Mama's unhappiness, and, together, they find the proper send-off for Ola in the desert. Johnson leaves much to understatement, trusting readers to delve between the lines. Emily's narration is interrupted—by Mama, by Ola—in resonant testaments of love; such introspection gives the fleeting days an added poignancy. At the close, the laughter shared by these three and their friends seems to linger in the dry, still air. Place this brave and wonderful piece of storytelling with the best of YA fiction. (Fiction. 12+)"
Publishers Weekly
PW , in a starred review, praised this ``thoughtfully nuanced and penetrating'' novel about three generations of women from an African American family who must cope with a beloved grandmother's illness. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Before Emily's grandmother leaves her beloved desert home, possibly for the last time, the sensitive teen sets out to record the memories of the woman, her friends, and relatives on video. While documenting the reminiscences, she learns about her African American family's past and gains the strength to say good-bye. A powerful story about connections and coping. (Apr., 1993)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Grandmama Ola left Alabama and moved to the desert in 1964. That was right after Grandaddy's funeral. Emily's mama, who was 14-years-old at the time, hated the desert and left angrily after three years. Emily, who narrates the story, is 14, and loves the desert and Grandmama, though her relationship with both is changing. This will be Emily's last trip out west, at least to visit Ola, who is going to live with Mama and Emily in Cleveland. Ola is dying of cancer. The juxtapositions of past memories and the present in this powerfully moving book are as fluid as a dancer's movements. A celebratory dance of life, reflecting the ending of childhood and the beginning of womanhood and selfhood, the story is about African American history, the pain of it (Grandaddy had been lynched and Mama had found him) as well as the joy (with a camcorder, Emily tapes Ola and her many friends sharing and laughing). With ingenuity and grace, Johnson captures the innocence, the vulnerability, and the love of human interaction as well as the melancholy, the self-discovery, and the introspection of adolescence. (Reviewed Apr. 1, 1993)
Word Count: 22,226
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 3.0 / quiz: 8593 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:6.0 / quiz:Q11644
Lexile: 760L
Guided Reading Level: Z
Fountas & Pinnell: Z

Angela Johnson's Coretta Scott King Award winning novel that traces three generations of African American women as they learn one another's truths.

Three generations of African American women, each holding on to a separate truth. Their story -- encompassing racism and murder as well as the family commonplaces that make a life -- is one that readers will never forget.

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