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It's 1932, and Cal Black and his Pop have been riding the rails for years after losing their farm in the Great Depression. But then Pop has to go to Washington, DC-some of his fellow veterans are marching for their government checks-and Cal can't go with him. So Pop tells Cal something he never knew before- Pop is actually a Creek Indian, which means Cal is too. And Pop has decided to send Cal to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Oklahoma called the Challagi School. At school, the other Creek boys quickly take Cal under their wings. Even in the harsh, miserable conditions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, he begins to learn about his people's history and heritage.
In alternating passages, two Mohawk sisters describe their lives at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, established in 1879 to educate Native Americans, as they try to assimilate into white culture and one of them is falsely accused of stealing.
In the summer of 1965, Sophie's family becomes the first African Americans to move into their upper middle-class neighborhood in Los Angeles. When riots erupt in nearby Watts, she learns that life and her own place in it are a lot more complicated than they had seemed.
In 1924 Vermont, a small town falls under the influence of the Ku Klux Klan. Two girls, Leanora Sutter and Esther Hirsh, one black and the other Jewish, are among those who are no longer welcome in their community. As the potential for violence escalates, heroes and villains are revealed, and everyone in town is affected.
After twelve-year-old Sumiko and her Japanese-American family are relocated from their flower farm in southern California to an internment camp on a Mojave Indian reservation in Arizona, she helps her family and neighbors, becomes friends with a local Indian boy, and tries to hold on to her dream of owning a flower shop.
Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of a woman with a future.
Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that's hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall. It's 1962, and it seems the whole country is living in fear.
Crow was a mere baby when she drifted to the shore of one of the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Nearby Penikese Island was home to a leper colony at the time of Crow's birth, and most of the island folk assume her birth parents were lepers and shun her. Now a 12-year-old and uncertain of her parentage, Crow becomes increasingly curious following a fire on the now supposedly vacant Penikese. Where did she really come from? What happened to her parents, and is there a chance she has any surviving blood relatives?