A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha's heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil's dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead.
Thirteen very different voices old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.
Chosen as a state and citywide read in communities across the country:
Vermont Racine, WI Tampa, FL Newburgh, NY Boca Raton, FL
Fleischman's talent for writing stories from various points of view makes his works particularly appealing in audiobook form. Here, 13 different characters come alive via the distinct performances of a widely varied cast. When Kim, a young Vietnamese girl, plants some lima beans in a run-down vacant lot near her Cleveland, Ohio, apartment building, she has no idea that her actions will be a catalyst for reinvigorating the community. An elderly Romanian woman, a widower from Kentucky, an African-American boy and a Hispanic man are just a sampling of the other nearby residents who gradually emerge to follow Kim's unintentional lead and begin to help grow a new garden-and newly fulfilled lives-in the lot. Though not all the readings are of equal caliber (the portrayals of Ana and Wendell are particularly strong; a couple of the child performers lack polish), the range of voices and styles suggests a true community-certainly the author's intention. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)